As I read through the gospel of Matthew, Jesus speaks constantly of the Kingdom of Heaven. Parables of farming, cultivating, planting and pruning seem to be a reoccurring theme tied to a sense of worthiness and action.
A deep and tumultuous history of religion used these actions to control and behavior modify me into submission. In my ignorance of Jesus teachings, eager to please my parents and be included in any tribe that would accept me, I fell right in line and pursued the metrics of the church that promised “surely I would be with Jesus in paradise.”
Grief permeated my soul as this promised land always seemed out of reach, dangled like a carrot in front of an ass too stupid to question the perilousness of his situation, I marched on as a drone for religion, seeking righteousness outside myself, desperate to gain the coveted title of “Godly Man” by the church's elite.
Depression quickly set in to provide a false comfort that the sadness was normal, alcohol seduced me to sleep and the doctors always had a magic pill to mood alter me into happiness. My declination of there prescriptions only further isolated me but I found dignity in my rebellion not to become one of their walking dead.
Jesus said that anyone that does not deny his family and follow him wasn't worthy of his kingdom. He further speaks of selling possessions and abandoning everything to achieve this mysterious reward. What was once maddening, is now comforting as I embrace my own hero's journey.
So as this year winds down, after selling everything for six weeks of treatment, thousands of miles traveled, exploring rivers and caverns and taking over 2,000 pictures this truth is finally resting in my stubborn soul. The Kingdom of Heaven that Jesus spoke so much of is right here inside me all along.
Oh sure, I've heard that said. But for the few of us over-performers, the ones that had to re-learn grace and how to receive love without payment…well this scripture means something very powerful for us.
You don't know what's truly important, until you've lost everything. And in that moment, you gain a peace that transcends all understanding to step in to your own heaven, the kingdom of your soul with priceless riches. Jesus, your teachings have taught me how to save myself, to live as you would live and for this, I receive you.