Once upon a time, there was a kingdom full of light and its King was its sun and its center. A master artisan at heart, He had endeavored to take the nothingness around Him and make His kingdom into something breathtakingly beautiful. And so He did and everything He touched with His creative energies was good and wonderful. There was no sadness or tears in His kingdom, only joy and laughter. Throughout the kingdom there was no fear to be found for the King was always on His throne and thus always had things well in hand.
This King was fearsomely powerful and mighty, yet He graciously condescended to give even lowly matters His full attention. He was perfectly just and yet within His heart He longed to show mercy. He was wise and so He invested all of His creative endeavors with various degrees of intelligence and reason, generously sharing His own nature as He did so. And at His core was love, pure love, and this love permeated His being and found expression in everything He did. And so this King was without equal in all the world. He was adored by his loyal subjects; they worshiped Him night and day and rightly so; He was worthy of it for He was like no other. He was perfect.
Time passed as time does. But there was a darkness that dared to lurk in this kingdom of light. It was not much at first; it lingered at the outer edges but it gradually worked its way toward the center, toward the King. Dangerous conspiracy was entertained by one subject in particular, one who in his pride thought to enjoy for himself the accolades of praise lavished on the King. This one thought to steal what was only the King’s, knowing full well he could never deserve it. No, there were no delusions of grandeur here, just a cold, ugly greed.
When his rebellious thoughts at last broke through into the open, into the light, they were seen for what they were: a blatant attack on His Majesty that would never be tolerated. This one had his minions, a few in his corner he had wooed to the dark side. But all told, even with his meager reinforcements, he was no match for the One whose glory he sought to grasp; only in a fairytale would he be any real threat to this King.
So the civil war that erupted was adeptly snuffed out and things were again set aright in the kingdom. The offenders were rounded up and cast out of the light, but not without some cost. Battles are never fought without cost. And though the King’s loyal and adoring subjects rejoiced to be free of the nefarious elements that for a moment wreaked havoc in the kingdom, they knew it was not completely over.
For the King’s enemy would set up a rival kingdom, himself a sham king, masquerading as an emissary of light. From his own dark throne, he would lie and cheat and sink into all manner of depravity to snatch for himself a snippet of glory here, an ounce of attention there. In fact, he set the bar so low, he would find satisfaction should his only achievement be that the good and perfect King was ignored. Oh, sure, the dark imposter would rejoice if he were worshiped outright, but he would content himself with smaller victories. Ignorance. Apathy. Ego. Or, his personal favorite: defiance. He was down but he was not out. He would plot and plan and devise his strategies with shrewd craft. When the time was right, he would strike at the King again, and he would strike at the heart.
Sometime after the dust had settled within the kingdom of light, the good King set out to begin again, to fill a void left by those dastardly insurgents. And so He returned to the blank slate that had resulted when He had sent His enemy into exile. Judgment had been poured out upon His creative endeavors and only a portion of His kingdom remained. But He would begin again, He would recreate, and this time He would pour Himself into His work with abandon, heart and soul. With His own hands, the King would fashion a masterpiece in His own likeness. His loyal and adoring subjects watched with bated breath as the King invested Himself heavily in His new creation, but He was pleased; it was good; they sighed in relief as all was well in the kingdom of light.
Time passed as time does. The King would walk in His garden in the cool of the day and visit with His subjects. Those that lived in this place were special, and had a special place in His heart. He enjoyed their company; they were unique and pleasing, and He was drawn to them. They were the crown jewel of the kingdom, the King’s best work…and His nemesis knew it very well.
The prince of darkness, as he had come to be known in the kingdom of light, had bided his time in his exile. He was no foolhardy adversary. No, the stakes were too high. He had waited and watched. He had crouched patiently at the door and when opportunity presented itself, he seized it with gusto. Ever the gentleman, however, he deftly made his case with one of the King’s favorites one day, smoothly suggesting all might not be as it appeared. The King might not be all He says He is. He might not be THAT good. He might not be SO true. He planted his seeds of discontent, sprinkled them with half-truths, and watched with twisted pleasure as the weeds of disloyalty sprouted within the King’s garden.
It was not long before the King took action. Judgment came again to the kingdom of light. The King prevailed as He always did; but again there was cost, this time a greater cost than before. This time the crown jewel of the kingdom fell into the hands of its greatest enemy. The loss was felt most acutely by the King Himself. He cursed His enemy and grieved for His special subjects now held captive by His arch-nemesis.
But all was not lost. The King had a plan. He had always had a plan for He had always known it would come to this. And being in all ways a good King, He was in all ways prepared. He would launch the most dramatic rescue operation the world had ever known, and though it would be very costly, He was rich and the treasuries of the kingdom of light were well-endowed. It was good that it was so, because for this endeavor, no price would be too high.
Time passed as time does. On the surface it seemed the war had slipped into a cold peace, but the struggle between the kingdom of light and the forces of darkness would manifest itself in cloak-and-dagger operations. Skirmishes of all sorts broke out sporadically as the dark one raged against the King. His minions did his dirty deeds, defaming the King’s good name, damaging His good gifts, and devising to demolish any hope that He would ever launch His so-called “rescue.”
But the King had His plan, and He would execute it when the time was right and not a moment before. His people would not be held captive by His foe forever. He would see to that; He would see to it Himself. The dark prince had set the ransom for their freedom outrageously high, and garnering a false security by that, he carelessly crowed victory. He suspected all along that the King would send a party of His most elite to raid his camp and attempt to set the captives free, and this suspicion was well grounded. He knew His former Master well. But the dark side, always mired in its own muck of voracious self-interest, could not conceive the brilliant plan in the works. They could not possibly have anticipated the King’s master stroke of strategy. It was almost as if they never even saw it coming.
At last it was time. Masquerading as commoner, the good King spent many years in enemy territory, sowing seeds of His own, watering them with truth, and giving life to hope that all was not lost for the captives. He did much good everywhere He travelled, exasperating His enemy by eluding his grasp and bringing light to the dark places where evil lurked.
At long last, He Himself paid the ransom for His favorites, not with silver or gold, but something far more precious… His own life. Life for life. No, better, one life for many. It was the only way. Humbly, with no pretensions whatsoever, the King walked right into His enemy’s lair and surrendered His own life. The good King’s foe, a cheater to the core, had no intention of setting anyone free despite the ransom paid in full. Heady with power and claiming victory, he reveled in the dark hour and congratulated himself on the ease with which it all transpired. “The King is dead!” the minions cried. “The darkness reigns!”
But their victory proved short-lived for they had grossly underestimated this King. While the dark side danced, the light again broke softly into the darkness. The life that had been quietly laid down was quietly taken up again. Now unchained, any held captive in that prison camp need only follow the light to find their freedom. Out of never-ending night, they slipped from the clutches of wickedness and death, rescued by their Servant King and now restored to His realm. Back in the kingdom of marvelous light, He sits upon His throne again, but many of His subjects still languish in the darkness.
Today, though the gates stand wide open, the enemy’s camp is overcrowded and populated with the thousands, no millions or billions of lost. These have all been born there since the King pillaged the dark prison long ago. Generation has begotten generation of captives, many of whom have no knowledge of their bondage for they know nothing else, they know nothing of freedom, they know nothing of life. They don’t know about the kingdom of marvelous, shimmering light just on the other side, just out of reach beyond the high walls of their prison…the prison camp with unlocked gates. Some of them wonder. They know the darkness cannot be all there is. Conditions in the enemy camp are dreadful. Following the example of its pitiful lord, self rules there. And thus pride. Hate. Anger. Abandonment. Rejection. Neglect. Bitterness. Fear. And every other form of evil that is birthed by self.
This grieves the heart of the King for He desires all His captive subjects to be free. He paid the price! And thus He would have every last one of His masterpieces rescued out of those squalid conditions and brought into the kingdom of light. There under His loving rule they will find mercy. His goodness and grace will wash away the cruel stains left by the servitude of self and send away their shame and guilt. He longs to tenderly bind up the wounds inflicted on them by the others trapped with them in the darkness. And once liberated from their chains, they will have purpose, a purpose of the most noble sort. At their King’s direction and by His power and authority, they will live in enemy territory, infiltrating the very place of their former captivity and offering freedom to those who remain in bondage still.
And time will pass as time always does. There will come a day when the last captive will walk free, out of the death camp choosing life. Then and only then His Majesty will come again to this dark place, His enemy’s territory. And so we wait, but not idly so; we are busy about our work as His Majesty’s operatives. He promised to return, not in disguise and not in humility but as conqueror, in power and in all His Kingly glory! He will rout His foe once and for all and make all that is darkness His kingdom of light. And all with Him that day will live happily ever after.