Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
~ Matthew 6:13 NKJV
When we recite the Lord’s Prayer in church, or when I meditate on it during my personal devotional time, that last word, “forever,” grabs my attention. That’s a long time. An endless eternity. Infinitely beyond all the tomorrows that I can imagine. Forever and ever and ever. . . It speaks of a God who is so great, so far above my minuscule human mind and mortal human body that I will never come anywhere close to understanding Him in this life.
I need this reminder of His greatness and my smallness.
But one day, while contemplating this sentence, I sense that that little word “forever” can take me too far down a certain road. I realize that I’m thinking, not Yours is, but Yours will be. I’m looking to the far-off future in awe and wonder, anticipating that day when God really will have the kingdom and the power and the glory. As if He doesn’t have them right now. As if I’m waiting, and will have to continue waiting, for these words to be fulfilled.
As if this is a prophecy, not a statement of the current reality.
When I look at my world, when I see the rebellion and violence and sin, do I really believe that God is the all-powerful, glorious king right now? And yet, that’s what this prayer, spoken by Jesus himself, is saying. Is. Not will be. Both now and forever.
How do I reconcile this with what I experience every day? How do I really believe, not just shut down the part of my brain that wants to question it, but honestly, truly, undoubtingly believe that God’s is the kingdom and the power and the glory right now?
To my human eyes, God can look like a lax dad who lets his children get away with too much. He has the title and the presumed authority, but everyone knows that he’s not really in control. When I’m feeling discouraged and doubtful, when Satan is shooting his flaming darts at me, is this how I view God? Is this how I explain the trials and the tragedies all around me? Am I imagining that He isn’t actually ruling just yet, but one day He will be, and then everything will be fine?
Or do I see Him as being like a superhero facing off against an almost-unbeatable foe? The villain strikes. Our hero comes to the rescue. But the bad guy shows unexpected strength or creativity. Sometimes he even captures the one we’re rooting for. Who will win? How will he do it? The outcome is uncertain. It could go either way. But then, just barely, at the last possible moment, before total destruction occurs, the good guy pulls it off.
If God is really all-powerful right now, then why is there so much suffering on this planet? Is He just slightly stronger than Satan, who wins many of the battles by his might and ingenuity in spite of whatever attempts God makes to stop him? Do I sometimes imagine God hanging on by the skin of His teeth until the ultimate battle when He will finally draw on His last ounce of strength and overthrow evil once and for all?
It doesn’t seem like He has much glory now, either. Especially in our Western culture, where we believe that we can make ourselves whatever we want to be without any help from above. Where we think we deserve, and we accept, all of the credit for all of our own achievements. Where we worship actors and athletes and musicians. They’ve captured our attention and awed us with their magical performances. Haven’t they earned the glory that we give them? What has God done that can rival their actions? It’s so easy to think that He doesn’t really have or deserve much glory now, but when that future forever comes, then He’ll show us what He’s got.
As I’m wrestling with these ideas, as I’m trying to understand what I know to be true ~ that God’s is the kingdom and the power and the glory right now ~ several thoughts come to mind.
First, I know that everything that I see and think and feel and believe is distorted by sin, Satan, the fall, and the curse. God has revealed enough of Himself in the Bible for me to be secure in the knowledge that I am saved by grace through faith in Him.
(Ephesians 2:8) I can see enough of His attributes in His Word and in the universe to trust Him and worship Him. But absolutely everything that my fallen mind can focus on is tainted, even my view of His character and His actions.
Second, I consider the wonder that this holy and righteous God, who brought into being all that exists, would grant His feeble creatures true freedom to make real choices. Why would a sovereign, all-powerful God do such a thing? Why would He allow His creation to be ruined by petty, little humans when He could make it perfectly good and beautiful forever?
The only reasonable answer that I’ve ever found is that He does it out of His love for us.
A wise and compassionate father desires guided freedom for His children, not absolute control. He knows that that’s what’s best for them and delights in providing it. He freely chooses to give up some of His own control to allow them to learn and grow by making their own decisions ~ and mistakes.
Every day I can choose actions and words that impact God’s priceless creation for better or for worse, for good or for evil. I have the power (within the limits that He’s set) to bring joy and gladness or pain and sorrow. When I’m questioning His power, I’m forgetting that He, in His sovereignty, freely allows us to make bad decisions and face the consequences. And that He has good and pure and compassionate reasons for doing it.
Third, I realize that, in our fallen state, we cannot gaze on Hs glory in all its fullness and live. Our mortal bodies are too weak and too corrupted by sin. That was the message behind God’s response to Moses’ request to see His glory. God couldn’t allow Moses to look on His full glory (His face); it would destroy him. He could only grant him a partial view (His back). (Exodus 33:18-23)
God has all the glory. Today. Right now. His glory is boundless, endless, overwhelming ~ just as it always has been and always will be. We get a glimpse of it in His creation,
His Word, and His actions in our lives, but we don’t see all of it because our vision is, by necessity, limited.
And finally, my mind turns back to my initial thought: God is so great, so far above my minuscule human mind and mortal human body that I will never come anywhere close to understanding Him in this life. His is the kingdom and the power and the glory right now.
If I have trouble believing that, it’s because of my shortcomings, not His.
About the author:
Ann O’Malley is the pseudonym of a new author seeking a publisher for her memoir of suicidal depression. Her pen name comes from “anomaly,” that feeling of being different, of not really belonging, which plagues so many of those who suffer from depression. For more of her writing, check out her blog, “Those Who Weep: Not-Quite-Evangelically-