|Grannie Annie and Grandpa Kevin with the Stone Family
We had a very special family visit us this summer: a mom and dad and their four kids. I’ve known the young mom since she was a kid herself; I think we met when she was about 14 or so. Throughout the years our relationship has grown to where she now calls me “mom”, and her kids (three of the four are under the age of five) refer to me as "Grannie Annie". Since Kevin and I have never had children, this is pretty cool. I’m not so sure Kevin is on board with the title “Grandpa Kevin”, however.
During their visit, it didn’t take me long to figure out that certain things needed to be kept out of reach, because like a shark explores everything with its mouth, so a toddler explores everything with his/her little mac ‘n cheese fingers (both can be quite dangerous). Unaccustomed to having small children in my home, I needed to reassess the situation. Some things needed to be moved out of reach for the children’s safety; others needed to be moved because of their value to me. For this brief visit, I’d rather rearrange a few objects in my home than have to continually tell my grandkids “don’t touch that!”
Then I got to thinking about things that were outside my own reach, and why. My Christmas dishes and good china and crystal are in the highest cabinets. I have to use a step-stool to reach them. They are kept away for special occasions. But why is one dinner more special than another? If I like my good china, why don’t I use it for ordinary dinners? In my bedroom closet I have some very high shelves, and to be honest, I couldn’t even tell you what is stored up there. All I know is that at some point I must have decided that items I don’t use often, or may not use for years (hoping they may come back in style), should be put out of my everyday reach.
People do the same thing, spiritually. I know I have. You probably have, too. Who’s to say that a miracle is more “special” than a healing, and therefore on the top shelf far from reach? The mere statement, “it would take a miracle”, many times rises from the frustration that all other options within reach have been exhausted and we must now get out the ladder and try to reach for the top shelf w-a-a-a-a-y up in heaven. God didn’t put miracles in some out of the way place for use on special occasions or in cases of emergency. Jesus showed us that miracles are easy (Mark 5:23).
Look what He said in John 3:13: “No one has ascended to heaven but He who came down from heaven, that is, the Son of Man who is in heaven.” Basically Jesus was telling us that while He was here on the earth (as a man) He had continual access to and from the realm of heaven at any time. He didn’t have to stretch. Brothers and sisters, this is powerful! You see, we sometimes say, “up there, and down here”, referring to heaven and earth. We have distanced ourselves from the realm of the miraculous with a preposition! But, dear Christian, we have been seated in heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 2:4-6)! Take your place. We have dual citizenship, on earth and in heaven, and as a result we have access and liberty in both places!
What would dual citizenship look like? In Mark chapter four we have the account of Jesus speaking to a literal, material, earthly storm. Think about it. Many of the men in the boat with Jesus were professional fishermen. They were not unfamiliar with storms. This one had to be bad for them to think they were going to die. What did Jesus do? I’ll tell you what He didn’t do. He didn’t panic. He didn’t even pray! He didn’t hesitate, but immediately spoke to the wind and the waves. Then He spoke to those fearful men in His boat, “Why are you such cowards? Don’t you have any faith at all?” (Mark 4:40, the Message) Jesus demonstrated His dual citizenship. He used the powers of heaven right here on the earth (and then reprimanded the disciples for not having already done it themselves)! “What kind of man is this” they asked each other, “that even the wind and sea obey Him?” They were impressed with His use of power and missed the fact they could have done the same thing.
I understand them. If all they ever knew about the world was its limitations, then that’s all they would ever expect. You can only go so far thinking like that. You'll come to expect your circumstances to dictate the rest of your experience. A horrific storm comes up on the lake, you do what you can: bail water and row till your energy is spent. When you can’t bail and you can’t row your way out, you just might die. That’s all they knew. In Luke 5, we find that they fished all night (remember, they were professionals, not out for sport; they were working) yet caught nothing. You win some, you lose some. Better luck next time. Again, that’s all they knew. Jesus shows up and tells them to throw their nets out into the deep water for a haul. Peter said, “We’ve already done that, all night in fact, but if you say so…” Their net broke and their ships began to sink for what came in at Jesus’ word. They didn’t know that a miracle load of fish was within their reach. They toiled all night and thought that was it.
It took the disciples some time to “process” this new way of living on the earth, so don’t feel bad. Time and time again they were astonished at how Jesus’ dual citizenship was expressed. Peter finally began to understand when at Jesus’ word, he, himself, followed the man with no limitations right out of the boat and onto the water. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Luke 18:27, NKJ) He learned from the best.
Before Jesus returned to heaven, He said this to those who followed Him: “These are some of the signs that will accompany believers: They will throw out demons in my name, they will speak in new tongues, they will take snakes in their hands, they will drink poison and not be hurt, they will lay hands on the sick and make them well.” (Mark 16:17-18, the Message)
Peter believed Him, because we see him in Acts 3 (after receiving the promised Holy Spirit) commanding a lame man to walk in the Name of Jesus. He didn’t pray for him; he spoke to him and then grabbed him (he was within reach) and pulled him up. Later we see how comfortable Peter was expressing his own dual citizenship – people brought sick folks and laid them in the street expecting his shadow to fall and heal them.