When There’s a Lion in Your Yard
This week Seth and I celebrated our 17th anniversary right as the leaves turned electric. It was as beautiful as the day we were wed. But today the temperature will drop a few degrees every hour until it’s freezing out. The wind cuts through our last warm edge of autumn and wears a long ice-tinged veil. Now the leaves ride and turn wide flips in the air, all rainbow and hard-etched tree lines against a newly revealed backdrop of purple Arkansas hills.
The mountain lion visited our yard this week. It is 6 feet long. There’s a lion. In my yard. Mountain lions can grow to be 9 feet long, and they can easily jump 20 feet. They attack their prey from behind.
I’ve been reading the book of Luke like my life depends on it, with the exact diligence I use to make sure my kids hang outdoors in a loud gang and come in before dusk.
There’s a clamoring in the air and a mountain lion in my yard. Both will eat your children. I think it’s time to put on prophetic imagination instead of asking media to give us all the pictures in our mind’s eye. Let’s get off facebook and twitter and call our friends. There are lions. Go to your people in the flesh. Eat with them. Write their names on your palm. Love one another deeply, and then hit the streets. Find the artists and listen. Find the paint and look deeper. Put your bare feet on the ground, the soil, and engage yourself with the raw science of God’s real, physical energy. Clean the sick loops out of your mind. Start a new habit. Put it on like a monk does in the morning, a fresh habit like a robe. Get inside the idea that this clammoring world is looking for a kingdom to claim and belong to, a power that can charge them up and set them in elevated places.
This world is charged with the grandeur of everything but God – unless you realize that the Kingdom is already within you, already within the child, already within the poor and marginalized, and already within the mercy-hungry, unforgivable tax collectors who’ve taken from us. The Kingdom belongs to such as these. Jesus said it himself. Remember how the Jews and the Romans were terrified of Jesus? They were afraid of losing their power. When the KINGDOM COMES, it will be charged with the grandeur of God, absolutely ripping the power from the hands of those with authority because no law can be placed against the invisible things that make us whole kingdom people. Who could control us then? No law or government or amount of money will ever heal us.
Who is in charge today? Who is King? Is Trump going to be King? Does my platform make me queen? Beyonce, anyone? Dollar bills can rain down on our pretty heads like glitter, but this has nothing to do with why people were afraid of Jesus. He didn’t get much glitter. His was the real power.
Even still, no one with authority today in this power-driven world is afraid that the Kingdom of God will come. In fact, a lot of kingdom people seem to be swept up in the concern of keeping their power instead of taking the good-news word of God to the undeserved powerless. If Jesus Christ were to walk in the room right now, right where we sit, with His thunder and lightning and gentle consuming love, that secret place holiness wide open before us like a blinding rapture, wouldn’t we drop to our knees in the full knowledge that not a single one of us earned the right to be in the presence of such beauty? He just comes all simple and available, proving himself again and again, because he loves us. It’s insane to have an earth-indwelling God. Aren’t we all the undeserved? He breathed life into us and made us the terrifying, undeserved Kingdom bearers in this world. The powers that be tremble at those who realize such things. Who gives a rip if you identify with one group or another? Evangelicals? Spirit-filled? Right-leaning or left? Orthodox or First Baptist Church of Goonie Holler? Who cares? We’re losing our heads over things that aren’t the thing.
Dammit, there’s a lion.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you. To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter:5:6-10)
Who is the King?
Christ is King. This Sunday is actually Christ the King Sunday, the beginning and end of the liturgical year. If you’re in charge of the service and have access to microphones, I hope you’ll preach it and sing it. If you keep the quieter ways, whisper it to the babies. Touch the skin of your lover. Stir salt in the soup you make for your people. You have eyes on the ground, you witnesses of grandeur. Christ is our King. Hallelujah.