The Kingdom of God Within You
I often find myself reflecting about where I haven’t seen God, rather than where I have seen God. I wonder where God is when someone dies too soon, when relationships are broken, when our neighbors don’t have the basic necessities to live, when people choose hate over love.
In such a broken world, we can easily become immune to God’s presence. Yet, we can’t let immunization be an option when the only way we can have hope and comfort is if we look for God’s presence, even in the midst of the most difficult trials that life brings. This seems like an impossible task at a vulnerable moment, but the truth is that you never have to look far to see God.
I saw God on Father’s Day when I felt strong. I celebrated the 18 years I had with my dad instead of dwelling on what I don’t have. God reminded me that it’s much harder to feel empty when I choose to fill my heart with gratitude.
I saw God when I visited a quadriplegic member of the church who was filled with so much joy.
I saw God when I had to embrace the fact that my grandmother has reached the point where she needs care rather than cure. Her body is frail and her memory is not the same, but I have peace knowing that when it’s time for her to go, she will leave with a heart filled with love.
I saw God on a day when I was just feeling down about the way of the world, but I came home to a funny letter my little sister sent me from camp – it made me laugh the rest of the night. I was reminded that no matter how painful the world can be, nothing can ever take away the joy that surrounds me.
I saw God when I volunteered with the Reverse Food Truck. I was in the middle of explaining our mission to a man when he grunted and walked away. I later saw him donate a bag of canned goods. God changes hearts.
I saw God when I saw my favorite band, the Avett Brothers, sing the words,
“I cannot go on with this evil inside me.
I step out my front door and I feel it surround me.
Just know the kingdom of God is within you,
Even though the battle is bound to continue.”
Every second of every minute of every hour of every day this week, God was present in my life. I should never have to think twice about the answer to the question, “Where have you seen God this week?” It should be obvious, but when we live in a world of hurt and suffering, there is not always a clear answer.
As I listen to the Avett Brothers sing the above lyrics, I think about how we have this “evil in us” that wants to turn away from God when the path planned for us becomes too rocky to bear.
Even when our personal path is currently smooth, we “step out the front door” and have to face a broken world. The pain never ends, but if we choose to embrace it, we realize we aren’t alone. Trust replaces fear. Peace replaces conflict. Hope replaces despair. In the words of the Avett Brothers, “Just know the kingdom of God is within you, even though the battle is bound to continue.”
Anna Grace Claunch is a summer intern at NorthPark Presbyterian Church. Anna Grace currently attends Rhodes College and is a rising senior majoring in Religious Studies.
Words cannot do justice how much your writing meant to me. I have been battling with God and my faith for some time now. Your words have been the only thing that has made sense to me in a long time.
Good luck with your life. You have a gift. I look forward to reading more of your stuff.