The Kingdom of Heaven in a Plastic Egg

Sometimes the most significant moments are hidden in a first small step.

We live in an old red-brick farmhouse, but the farm itself has vanished. The wavy glass of these Victorian windows once looked out over fields, but today, when I push aside the curtain, I see sidewalks, children on bicycles, and the raw wood of backyard decks.

The land that remains from the original farm stretches like a long green finger out to the country road. When we first saw the house almost four years ago, I told my husband it would be perfect for an Easter egg hunt. Then these words tumbled from my mouth: “We should invite all of the neighbors.”

 

By our first spring in the house, we still hadn’t met a single person. The cold winter—not to mention a split-rail fence smothered in brambles—felt like an impenetrable barrier. It was loneliness that brought the idea of a neighborhood egg hunt to mind, but I was afraid no one would come. Or, I was afraid children would come but then break their ankles in some hole left by our resident woodchuck.

Over the years I have learned to listen to whispers and respond to small nudges. Despite my fear, I ordered 2,000 plastic Easter eggs online. Quickly, before we could change our minds, my husband and I gathered a stack of invitations, still warm from the printer, and dropped one at each neighbor’s door. There were 115 invitations adorned with a clip-art bunny.

In the parables of Jesus, the great and glorious kingdom of heaven always begins in some small, insignificant way. It is a tiny seed. It is yeast. It is a pearl. It is treasure buried in a field. For me, it has been like a pink Easter egg with a single jelly bean inside.

In the parables of Jesus, the great and glorious kingdom of heaven always begins in some small, insignificant way.

Though their subject matter is grand and everything is at stake, these parables seem to ask so little of us. We must only toss a seed or knead the dough. Sometimes, all they require is that we open our eyes and recognize what is being offered to us: a pearl worth far more than any risk we must take or any fear we might harbor.

On that first Easter weekend, I was astonished when a crowd of 100 began to pour through the gap in our back fence. Children swarmed our small playset. Neighbors brought over potted tulips and platters of blueberry muffins. I felt just as I had earlier that morning when I noticed, for the first time, early golden daffodils emerging in great drifts all along the drive. I had not planted those flowers, but there they were. Mine to gather. Mine to enjoy.

God dwells with us in surprising and unanticipated ways, but then He invites us to participate in that indwelling.

This year we will host the fourth annual neighborhood Easter egg hunt. I am no longer surprised when a crowd begins to walk across our lawn in search of conversation, connection, and candy. Yet just as it did that first day, our community celebration reminds me of God’s promise that His glory will “dwell in our land” (Ps. 85:9).

The egg hunt has turned out to be very much like those daffodils. What began with a whisper as small as a buried bulb, became an unexpected revelation of glory across our swath of land. God dwells with us in surprising and unanticipated ways, but then He invites us to participate in that indwelling.

This Easter, I will watch dozens of children search for eggs among the daffodils. With the help of my children, I will have filled all of those eggs. And in these small ways, I cultivate a little more ground for the glory of God. It’s like digging for a treasure that I know can be found.

And while I dig, I pray: Thy kingdom come.

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9 Surely His salvation is near to those who fear Him, That glory may dwell in our land.

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