My small hands were sweating and shaking as I carefully pinched the king and queen of spades together preparing to close off my mammoth work of art. There before me stood an empire. Mighty walls ringed a majestic castle complete with a secret passageway, banqueting halls, and rooms filled with endless glistening suits of armor. In the courtyard, knights jousted and trained for war. This was no ordinary construction of flimsy cards. I looked out over my creation, and with the eyes of a child I saw a wild and wonderful world.
With a nervous tremor I released the royal couple to stand erect. They wavered, bickering back and forth as they jostled for position. Suddenly, the king took a tumble. The queen gave a sweeping royal bow, and in the blink of an eye I watched their kingdom collapse. The royal palace, sprawling out across the living room rug, imploded in a raging rush of hearts, diamonds, and clubs. I watched all of my painstakingly slow work fall flat.
There it lay on the floor, nothing more than a pile of discarded cards; 10 decks tossed helter-skelter, casualties in a flash flood; proud stone, mortar, and ramparts now humbled. Unsuspecting casualties, they lay broken and battered, heaped upon the mud-stained carpet. I had such dreams for those cards as I carefully connected them, creating my imaginary kingdom. And then, in the blink of an eye, my dreams and plans came crashing down. I kicked the pile of cards in frustration. All along I’d been playing God, thinking I was in control; but I was only fooling myself.
I look at my hands now and they are much bigger and stronger than they used to be. Years have gone by, but I still find myself trying to build imaginary kingdoms. I spend so much time and effort dreaming about the future, laying down stone and mortar in a world that does not exist. I want to be in control. I want to be God, and when the walls cave in and I’m blindsided by the unexpected and the troublesome, I become the same little boy devastated by the broken house of cards. I lash out in frustration and wonder “Why me?”
In the stillness and the brokenness of the rubble I am reminded of the words I so often pray without thinking. They are the precious words Jesus taught us: “Not my will but yours be done.… May your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.”
I hear the still small voice in the back of my mind saying, “Simeon, when will you stop trying to build your own kingdom? When will you lay down your tiny dreams and take up the extravagant dreams I have for you? Stop playing with cards in the living room! Stop wasting your life on insignificant childish things!”
“I have called you to come and join in the work of my kingdom that stretches to the ends of the earth. Do you trust me to take care of you? Do you actually believe that my vision for your life is greater than yours? Have you forgotten that I am your creator who knit you together in your mother’s womb and knew you before the very beginning of time? If so, then stop building card castles and come follow me.”
I feel my hands begin to sweat, but this time they shake before the King of Kings. A once mighty wall in my own eyes, I sit on the floor humbled. I barely dare to whisper. “Lord, I want to believe. Help my unbelief.”
What are the card castles that have distracted you from God’s greater calling upon your life? What are the ways that he is teaching you to trust him and stop trying to play God?