My go-to prayer in life is “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” I pray the first phrase as I breathe in, and the second phrase as I breath out. In doing so, I re-centre my thoughts on God, and away from myself, giving whatever is weighing me down back into the hands of God. […]
My go-to prayer in life is “Your kingdom come, your will be done.” I pray the first phrase as I breathe in, and the second phrase as I breath out. In doing so, I re-centre my thoughts on God, and away from myself, giving whatever is weighing me down back into the hands of God. God’s kingdom is a much better authority in life than my little queendom. God’s will is a far better plan than what I will come up with. By praying this prayer, I am inviting God to come into my life and into a situation, for the Spirit to work through me and in the context, and that God may be glorified.
But what is God’s kingdom? We spent a full day discussing this with the Kope translation team recently. Is God’s kingdom a place, or is it about authority? It is about God’s authority as king, and about our relationship to God. Are we citizens of God’s kingdom, or are we citizens the various kingdoms of the world? Does God rule in my life, or does money, fear, success etc? Being in God’s Kingdom is about belonging to God, it is not about a place. In the same way that I am still a subject of HRH Elizabeth II regardless of which country I am in, I am a citizen of God’s kingdom regardless of where I am in the world, or who surrounds me.
Unlike my non-existent relationship to Her Majesty, we have a privileged relationship with the maker of heaven and earth, as we are joint-heirs with Christ. We are invited to call God “Abba” which is similar to “Daddy” or “Papa”, a close and trusting relationship (Rom 8:12–18). It is clear (Gal 3:23–29, 1 Pet 3:7) that this is true of women too! We also are heirs of God!! In New Testament times women had almost no rights, and were largely treated as property. For us to be equal co-heirs was a radical change in understanding the value of women.
How we live our lives is then a reflection of this relationship with our Papa God, it is a sign of the kingdom relationship that we are part of. We are to enter the kingdom like children (Mt 18:1–5), with trust and delight, not doubting the goodness of God. We are to come humbly, knowing that we are there because of God’s love, not because of our efforts. A parent loves their child because they are their child, not because of anything the child has done. This is how God loves us, as children he is waiting to embrace with love and shower with grace. When we first seek this kingdom relationship, God then gives us all the other things that we need (Mt 6:33), we do not need to worry about the details. When we pray “Your kingdom come”, we are giving all those details back to God. Let us approach our Dad’s throne with confidence (Heb 4:15-16).
Practically though, what does it look like to live out this kingdom relationship, to see God’s will done? It looks like love. That might seem like a wishy washy answer, but it is the answer Jesus gave when the Pharisees questioned him about the greatest commandment. We are to love God, and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mt 22:36–40). Still, what does this mean? It is a question I’ve often asked myself, when I am stuck on how to act in love in a difficult situation. It is an even more complex question cross-culturally! 1 Cor 13:4–7 tells us very clearly what love is. When I am stuck, I ask myself how I can act in a way that is patient, kind, not envious etc. The Spirit helps me to see a way forward, often via repentance for not living up to this standard. I know I do not have the strength to love this way on my own, and am thankful for the Holy Spirit who teaches us to love, and for forgiveness for regularly getting it wrong.
Trusting God and learning to love others as God loves me has lead me on quite an adventure in life. It is how I have ended up living and working in Papua New Guinea as a Bible translation advisor. At the end of March it will be ten years since I moved to PNG. This has been a time of learning to love people who live a very different life to my own, and have a very different worldview. It has meant leaning into God, so that God’s kingdom may come and will be done, rather than my own. In living out my kingdom relationship with God in PNG, I have watched, learnt, made mistakes, and tried again. I laughed, I have cried, and I have prayed a lot. It is exciting to see God’s kingdom coming in PNG, as people get to know who they are in Christ, and are changed by that. It is hard to see the places where God’s love is rejected. While my heart breaks for some people, I am sure Papa God’s heart breaks even more for his children. This work of discipleship, of living alongside people and mentoring them in the family of God, is what I love most about my work, and is what I find the most challenging.
In seeking God’s will, and in seeking to invite more people to join us in God’s kingdom, there are some exciting things happening in my translation programme this year. The first is that the Kope translation team have completed Luke, and when drier season returns in October, we plan to dedicate the print and audio editions of Luke in Kope. Meanwhile, the team has started drafting both Acts and Genesis.
The big excitement is that we are planning to reach out to more of our PNG neighbours by training people from multiple nearby languages to tell God’s story in their own languages through Oral Bible Storying (OBS). This training will be held through a series of workshops held in Ubuo, the Kope village where I live. We already have a classroom where the students will meet, learn and translate, but we need to build a dorm for them to sleep in. Building in a remote area is a challenging and expensive undertaking, but it is an investment in training people in understanding, translating, and sharing the word of life that is the Scriptures.
So far I’ve only spoken about the coming of God’s kingdom in our lives in this current age, but what about the final kingdom? That too will come. There will be a day when we will have imperishable bodies, rather than being people of dust (1 Cor 15:42-50). Some days the longing for that day, when the brokenness of this world is finished, leads me to tears. I am writing this a few days before my sister’s funeral, after her sudden death from a very aggressive cancer. I have raged to our Papa God about the unfairness of it all, desperate for when cancer is gone from the world and this hole in my heart is healed. The Psalms show us that God welcomes honesty in our relationship with him, and there have been some very raw prayers lately. I know that day of no more tears and all things being made new will come, but for now we live with the brokenness, taking comfort in knowing that God is with us, and knowing that God is good, even when we struggle to see how that can be true in the moment.
God, may your kingdom come, in our hearts, in our lives and in our communities. May we know who we truly are; your beloved children and heirs. May we trust you in the big things and the small things, knowing that you are with us through it all, and that one day, all will be made new.
If you would like to support the Ubuo Training Centre and Dorm project, please visit Ubuo Training Centre & Dorm, PNG – Wycliffe Australia or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of ‘Ubuo Training Centre PNG’.
If you would like to consider the opportunity to donate to Hanna Schulz, who is serving as a linguist and translation advisor in Papua New Guinea, you are invited to go to https://wycliffe.org.au/member/hanna/
For more information about Hanna Schulz, go to https://www.lcamission.org.au/about-us/who-we-are/countries/papua-new-guinea/papua-new-guinea-hanna-schulz/