A few years ago I abdicated my throne in the Kingdom of Me and surrendered it to Jesus. I want him to be King. I really do. And he is in fact King of my life. In my daily prayer conversations with him I say, “Please, I only want what you want for me. Your will, please, not mine – ever.”
I do this not because I am some spiritual giant; I do this because I have commanded the Kingdom of Sam for a long time, and I have achieved Sam’s will many times. But each time it was at best a C-, more often D’s and F’s. So it’s not my great faith; it’s my common sense.
However, I live alone. I have no women in my life to knock me off my throne – except my daughter, who is quick to do so every time she comes around. My weekends are typically all about Sam. Which I absolutely love. But this cultivates a Kingdom of Sam atmosphere, which I have found tends to bleed over into other areas, when I am not alone.
Consequently, much of the time I exist in my own little kingdom, doing what Sam wants, with little interference. (What a great life!) Such is the background prologue to what shall hereafter be known in the annals of The Kingdom of Me as “The Staples Incident.”
A few weeks ago I stopped in Staples for a quick pick-up. But it was the first day back to school and the store was packed. Check-out lines were backed up for miles – miles!. I think to myself, “Better just to leave and come back another time.” But I’m here; maybe it won’t be that bad. So I queue up.
As I stand in line, trying my best to Zen out, I notice the line to my left now has only two people in it. I look around to see if anyone is moving into this gateway to freedom, but no one is, and the line is beckoning, “Come over here, escape this mayhem!” So I slide over.
But to my horror I realize the first lady checking out is writing a check. How stupid could I be not to see this before moving over? That’s why everyone else stayed in their lines: they saw the checkbook coming out.
This nice lady must have been counting to ten between each letter, because it took her 3 hours to write out the check. Then, just to rub it in, before she hands the cashier her ID, she first fills out her check register. I think she was actually writing War and Peace in her register, it was taking so long. I wanted to shout out, “Get a debit card lady! Join the 21st century!”
But I’m in control. I’ve got the Zen thing grooving.
Or so I thought.
Next in line was a mother with two daughters around middle school age. Very nice looking family, but they must have had 2000 items to check out. But I’m okay; I’m in a zone. Until …
Her last item was a recyclable notebook and the cashier didn’t know how to ring that up. Oh no, I see her reaching for the dreaded microphone and to my horror the next words I hear are, “Manager please to aisle 4.”
“Manager please?” I look around and there are no managers anywhere. Chaos reigns supreme. I’m screwed. My life is over. I’ll never get out of this line. I look around and the people in the line I was in have long since gone through – of course.
I can feel myself climbing up onto the Throne of Me. How do I know? Simple: my peace is gone. Tension is mounting. And why not? No one would keep the King standing in line like this. Clearly the subjects aren’t performing properly and the King needs to set things straight.
So here’s what I say, with a deep baritone of superiority and condescension worthy of a displeased royal monarch: “So are we locked down here until the manager comes?”
Yes, 721 Ministries guy, preacher Sam, was up on his throne. And he wanted the subjects to realize this, and clear the way for his Highness. Wouldn’t anyone who realized how important my time is, how important I am, want to quickly adjust the cash register and check me out without any further delay?
After all, who in their right mind would delay the King?
The nice mother in front of me turns to me, and with a kind smile says, “Do you speak for a living?” Uh oh. My heart is sinking. I’m looking for a hole to crawl into. “Because I go to Buncombe Street Methodist and you taught our combined classes this summer. That’s right, you’re Sam Hunter, aren’t you?”
I thought I would just die. Totally humiliated by my own self-centered, self-absorbed, Kingdom of Me, boorish behavior. “Hypocrite!” is what she must surely have been thinking. And she would be right.
I stammered out, “Uh, yes I am. And obviously I don’t practice what I preach. Please forgive me.” Thankfully she was overly gracious about it, and laughed it off. But I couldn’t.
Now I know I set this up as a funny story, and it is, but I was immediately conscious-stricken. My heart was broken. I had represented Jesus in such a shameful manner. If this nice girl was in any way struggling with the whole following Jesus thing, I had given her all the ammunition she would ever need to stiff-arm Jesus. If she wanted to dismiss God, I was making it easy for her.
As I drove home, wounded beyond anything in several years, I could hear Jesus saying, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34)
Part 2: What to do about the overflow of the heart
On this new site you will find a chart depicting this King of the Castle series. Go see it!
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Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.