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Jesus always talked about the Kingdom. He couldn’t shut up about it, really. It’s basically the theme of his entire ministry on earth (which only lasted three years but left a trail of people wrecked by grace). The Kingdom was always described in parables, which is just a fancy word for metaphors, which is just a fancy word for ‘word pictures.’ And a lot of the word pictures Jesus used were of small things. I like to think that Jesus wanted us to see the Kingdom in all the small things in life because we often get caught up looking for it in the big things. A mustard seed, some yeast, a few coins…small things. For me, it was earrings.

Let’s start here: when I was 16, someone introduced me to the Holy Spirit, and to the idea that I could actually hear God’s voice (like Jesus did!). When I heard this idea, I didn’t have many hesitations or doubts or questions about listening for Him to speak, so it was really easy for me to hear God’s voice. Since then, I’ve been listening for Him to speak everywhere I go. When I went to training camp for the World Race and someone taught us about this thing called “listening prayer,” I realized it wasn’t a new concept for me; it was a pretty routine part of how I related to God. On the World Race, I had amazing moments where I could hear God speaking so clearly; and that continues today. Every day on my drive to work I ask God which way I should take to work, or what I should listen to on my drive.

Still though, the listening part is easy.

The obedience part is harder.

Sometimes God gives me bigger and grander ideas. Sometimes it’s going up to talk to a stranger about Him. Sometimes it’s to call my mom. Sometimes it’s to buy something for someone. Sometimes it’s to sit and do nothing at all. (It’s hard to explain exactly how He tells me to do these things, so don’t get too hung up on that part. If you’re curious, I would love to talk about it sometime.)

The other day I was at Kroger buying gas and God told me I should buy gas for the next person who pulled up to station #8. There was no one there, and I didn’t know if I should wait around, so I thought about going to the cashier and pre-paying for some gas on station 8. While I was rummaging around my car to find paper to write an explanation note to leave at the pump, a car pulled up to the station. A middle-aged woman got out of the driver seat, follow by her husband; they seemed perfectly well-off and could totally afford their own gas, so immediately I hesitated to approach them. They would think I was weird if I tried to pay for their gas. They would be confused. They would maybe be insulted. I watched as they started to pump gas and before I could get over my fears, they had already swiped their credit card. I got into my car, ashamed, and drove away. I knew I completely failed, not because I believe that we have to do what God says in order to win His lose or approval or favor (that’s religion); but rather because I failed to choose boldness over fear, and I had missed an opportunity to display the wastefulness of God’s love and grace to another fellow human who needs it.

It always seems simple to listen and obey until the moment comes and there are a million reasons not to.

About a week later I was pumping gas again and I remembered that day. I remembered station #8, and thought maybe I could get a second chance. I looked up to figure out where station 8 was, and laughed immediately when I saw that I was standing at station #8. God had a little chuckle at that one too. As I stood there filling my tank, I asked the Lord to promise me that He would never stop talking to me, even when I failed to obey Him. A very wise woman told me that we can’t expect God to use us to do things like heal people and raise people from the dead if we can’t even be faithful in the small things. Small things like paying for gas. So I told God I promised I would be faithful in the small things if He promised He would never stop talking to me. And He reminded me that He already has promised to never leave me nor forsake me, so that’s basically the same thing.

So that brings me to my small, Kingdom-shaped things: The other day I had an urge to wear a pair of fun dangly earrings. As I put them on I heard the Lord tell me to give them away to the first person that complimented them. I was oddly so excited for this new task. It felt like a surprise party that me and God planned together, and I got to be the one to yell “SURPRISE!” I went throughout the day meeting people, talking with people, and just hoping that someone would compliment my earrings. I was practically begging for someone to compliment them. But I kept trusting God to keep His promise.

It wasn’t until around 8pm while hanging with a group of friends that one of my friends said “Hey, I like your earrings!” I practically jumped off the couch with joy. “Really?!” I said. “Yeah!” she said, a little confused. “Well, God told me to give them to the first person today who complimented them,” I said while taking them out of my ears. “And that’s you!” I couldn’t believe it. I had waited all day for this moment and here it was. My friend was so surprised and we both laughed at the oddity of the moment but also the beauty of it. I don’t think she knows how much joy it gave me — not because she liked the earrings, but because I got the chance to be obedient.

How much I crave for every single moment to feel like that, that I would be so eager to be obedient to anything the Lord asks of me. That I would practically jump off the couch at the chance to give something away, to walk the extra mile, to turn the other cheek, to consider the lilies, to do Kingdom-shaped things, even when they are small. Because the kingdom is coming and I can see it and it’s shaped like a pair of blue earrings.