From October to January, my family has back-to-back birthday celebrations. I spend half the year blowing balloons, filling goody bags, and buying cakes to declare to the world how thrilled I am about my children.
By Valentine’s Day, my husband and I are so sick of festivities that we mutually agreed not to make a big deal of it. The earlier birthdays are filled with so much excitement. Over time, I realized that the 1st, 10th, 13th, 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays are all celebrations of what’s to come, an anticipation of a new era.
What’s interesting, though, is that as you pass the mid-twenties, there is a creeping dread that arises in the way people generally approach birthdays. All of a sudden, there are milestones that need to be reached, and you are not sure if and when you will reach them. You may have had a friend that got married at 24. You may know someone that already earns six figures. Your former classmate may have just bought a house, while you’re still living in your parents’ home. Oh, and there’s that person you know who has already seen the world and fulfilled half your bucket list. As the number of your age starts to go up, the pressure for achievement and status oftentimes get dialed up along with it.
At a certain age, there is a temptation to look for “your kingdom.” Your kingdom can be comprised of your accomplishments, your career advancements, your marriage, your children—whatever you have attained that adds to your name. Many are not satisfied with what their kingdom looks like by their mid-twenties and even mid-thirties and mid-forties. You may have had dreams that have yet been fulfilled. You may have had financial goals that have yet been met. If by a certain age you are beginning to freak out (for lack of better words), it could be a sign to you… maybe you are living for the wrong kingdom.
King Saul had a kingdom as well, one that was initially given to him by God. Yet, what was originally meant for God’s glory eventually became all about him. Rather than abiding by God’s rules, he made up his own (1 Samuel 13). He was so obsessed with success that he became controlling (1 Samuel 14:24). He was more concerned about people’s opinion than God’s (1 Samuel 15:30). And he was jealous of anyone that was more victorious than he was (1 Samuel 18:8-9). Eventually, Saul’s kingdom was torn away from him.
King David was also given a kingdom, but it did not end like Saul’s. Rulers tried to kill David. His own son tried steal his throne. He knew betrayal and rejection. Even as he was banished from the presence of King Saul, great men were added to his army (1 Chronicles 12). King David’s own flaws could not stop his kingdom from prevailing.
When King Saul lived for his name, his kingdom crumbled. But when King David lived for God’s name, his kingdom forever reigned. King Saul’s lot was fear, anger, and striving. King David’s lot was grace… pure grace.
Friends, do not fall into the temptation of living for yourself, for your name and glory. May you embrace the freedom of not being self-obsessed. It comes when you take up the duty to live for God’s glory and not your own. This could look like choosing not to compare your life with others or competing with those around you. It could look like prioritizing your devotional times with Christ before anything else in your day. You could surrender your life plans through prayer. You could choose to relinquish control over the way people think of you. Ultimately, once you release your kingdom, there will be peace as you move along in your years. Why? Because you know that the God you serve put you right where you need to be.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)