We were snuggled close together and Gracie asked:
“Mama, when we get to heaven will we have new bodies?”
“Yes, we will…” I replied
“Will God give us new clothes all in white?”
“God will give us a new body and a new name!” She proclaimed with the assurance of a promise.
“Yes, He will. He will give us each a special name known only to you and Him.”
“Mama, will God give us jobs in heaven?” Gracie asked thoughtfully.
“Yes, we will all have a special job in heaven…. What job would you want?”
“I hope I get to guard the throne!” She said in a whisper mixed with awe and passion.
“Like the seraphim?” I asked.
Out of pure curiosity for what she might say I asked: “Why do you want the job to guard the throne?”
“Because I want to stand in front of the throne and I want to be there to be in the battle to stop Satan from getting behind me and keep him from the throne that belongs to Jesus!”
I immediately began to consider this in regards not only to the real spiritual battle that goes on in the heavenly realms, but in terms of my own heart. I have long believed that we must look at our hearts as “kingdoms” all their own. Who sits on the throne of that kingdom? Is it me? Or is it the Prince of Peace? If you have reconciled yourself with the Lord then you are at peace with God— but does that mean the “battle” for the kingdom of our heart is over? No, indeed. There are still attacks by the enemy. There are still areas of rebellion that do not want to submit to the One True King. The attacks from the enemy, lies of the accuser and idols of our heart creep in to try and usurp the throne from its rightful King. The Lord says in Isaiah 42:8 “I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols.” I asked myself as I ask you— What are you doing to guard the throne of your heart— the throne that belongs to Jesus?
Not too long after this conversation Gracie and I were at the Waterford Fair. As we walked by the old church she said: “Oooo, Mama, I want to go in the church!” And when we walked into the church of over 100 years in age, Gracie “oooed and awed” at its antiquity. In sudden excitement, she pointed me to a seat and said: “You sit in the pew and I will preach to the people!” I sat as she climbed to the podium and began to “preach to the people.” (And yes, there were a few other people exploring the old church that day.)
“Sin is in the world!” She proclaimed in a loud firm voice. “Adam brought sin in the world when he ate from the apple, but then God came in the world. Look at Jesus in the manger. The wise men came to see Him. Do you see Jesus in the manger? Jesus came and took all the sin away. He died and shed His blood to take all the sin out of the earth. He is the One True King. PEOPLE! You have to stop making idols for yourself. Look at Jesus in the manger…. PEOPLE! You have to guard the throne of God!”
What is this passionate desire to “guard the throne” all about? I am amazed at the intensity with which a six year old is willing to stand as a Guardian of Truth. I am even more amazed by the profound simplicity of her “sermon.” It is at Christmas time I believe these issues of idolatry rear their heads the most. It takes a concerted effort to “guard the throne” as we wrestle with the contradictions of the season. I just finished reading the newsletter from Compassion First’s director, and our good friend, Mike Mercer. In it he articulated the contradictions Christmas embodies: “opulent consumerism to celebrate birth in poverty; impersonal commercialization washing over God’s gift of personal intimacy to our souls; pressures of schedules and, for many, peace-robbing indebtedness in celebration of the one who came to bring peace and joy….”
As we prepare our hearts in this Christmas season, I would ask that we all acknowledge the truth of our sin and take inventory. Take inventory not just of what we are thankful for or blessed with- but rather, take inventory of our idols and our sins, and admit as Paul does in 1 Timothy 1:15 “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners of whom I am chief.” Is that hard to do? Yes… and no. Yes, because as Jeremiah 17:9 says: “The heart is deceitful above all things.” We don’t want to see our sin, our pride, or our idolatry.
I believe it was Martin Luther who said the human heart is an idol factory. An idol is anything you look to or put your hope and trust in more than God. For some people that might be the security they believe they get from money. For others it might be the status of power. For some it may be the value of being romanced. We make idols of everything from careers to family, from security to love. But I think the biggest idol our American culture contends with is the idolatry of “self” and “self-sufficiency.” We are constantly at odds with the Lord Himself over “who” ought to be “sitting on the throne.” But what makes us able to bear looking at the depths of our own sinful nature and not fall apart? What gives us the ability to give up “our throne” to the only one worthy of it? As Gracie says: “Look at Jesus in the manger!” I am stunned at Grace’s piercing question: “Do you see Jesus in the manger?”
“Behold I bring you glad tidings of great Joy, for unto you this day in the city of David a savior is born who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2)
The Wise men came to see Him, the shepherds came to see him— do you see Him— the one who came to live the life you should have lived and die the death you should have died to “take sin out of the earth?” We are such a mess that nothing short of the God of the Universe Himself entering into the world of brokenness, rebellion and decay could save us. Here is a King who abandoned His throne to enter the battle to rescue us Himself. He came not with armies, but in the arms of a young girl— the infinite “I AM” wrapped in swaddling clothes broke through heaven for you and for me…
Let every heart prepare Him room….
He Rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove, the glories of His righteousness and wonders of his love!
Unlike every other King, Jesus does not command or demand your allegiance. This is how we know the wonders of His love for us are authentic and true— He lets us choose.
So I will leave you with this: Who sits on the throne of your heart? Is there room in your heart for Jesus to take the throne? If so— remember what 1 John says: “Dear Children, keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 5:21) The battle is not done until the last day, therefor as you press through this Christmas season and the years to come, with all due diligence: Guard the Throne! And keep His promise ever in mind: “And the Lamb will overcome… for he is Lord of Lords and King of Kings and those who are with Him are called chosen and faithful.” (Revelation 17:14)