Don’t you love memories you can smell?
It was Christmas time, and I was eight, maybe nine. I was standing outside my grandparent’s house, peering in at their large, blinking, light-littered tree as if staring at a life-sized Norman Rockwell painting in progress. The tree stood tall and proud in their living room, generations of glitter-covered popsicle-sticks decorating the branches. The farm house my grandparents owned had a huge bay window that could be seen from any angle on the front side of the house. A tree had been placed in that exact same spot every year for 40 years during the Christmas season. But to be perfectly honest, in this memory, my little boy eyes were laser focused on the presents more than the tree blinking at me, presents teasing with the promises of hope for happiness and fun.
My cousins were hollering at me to help with the base of the snowman they were building, but it didn’t deter me. I can almost feel the cold air against my sweaty brow, my breaths were heavy puffs, with snowflakes on my nose, as I stared at the presents. I can smell the snow even now. To this day my stomach knots in on itself, remembering how much I loved Christmas on my grandparent’s farm. I am so blessed to have these Christmas memories, reflecting on them today, God uses them to point me to something much more than gifts, snowmen and blinking lights.
“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you.” (Luke 17:21) Jesus often spoke of and pointed people to the idea of the Kingdom of heaven. In fact, I would contend that much of Jesus’ message centered on examining the Kingdom of heaven and helping us see the that we can, in fact, experience the Kingdom today, right here, right now. Jesus did tell us that it is within our midst. (Entos, the Greek word that is translated “within” or “in the midst of”)
I find it much like peering into my grandparent’s living room. I am seeing, witnessing, and even somewhat experiencing those gifts, even though they are not yet fully realized. Like the presents under the tree, it is the idea of what is possible, of what is to come that intrigues me. Jesus gives us this wonderful opportunity to experience glimpses, peer through the window, and even live within some realities of the Kingdom of heaven as we walk in relationship together within His church. As my laser focus remained on the presents under the tree, I wonder if I’m as zeroed in on the idea of the Kingdom of heaven today?