The King and the Whirlybird
Over the last few weeks, as you know, I’ve been teaching about the gospel: Christ for us, us in Him; Him in us and us living for Him. I have suggested that dwelling on the historical, external and objective facts of God’s actions in Christ is the key to joy, certainly to parenting (see Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 1:15-23!).
I’ve personally struggled to overcome the idea that “all that’s not very practical. How can it possibly work?” I’m not sure where that question comes from. Maybe the church has become so obsessed with doing. As I’ve been reading in the New Testament – especially the letters – I see that doing always followed believing. The writers regularly give us the “indicative” (the facts) before they give us the “imperative” (the commands; see for yourself: Ephesians 1-3, then 4-6). Jesus Himself tells us to “abide” before “obey”; in fact, the former is the key to the latter (John 15:4ff).
Something decisive happens to us when we are converted. Paul says we are buried, raised and seated with Christ (Romans 6, Ephesians 2). But we are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit. That indwelling means something grand: He has brought power and all the resources of heaven to prosecute His will for us, namely, our sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).
Yet, our regular testimonies to each other are of worry, depression, sexual sin, failures to give or serve, anger, bitterness, etc. Why is that? What are we missing? Well, marrying up, as I did, means many things. One cool thing has been interesting additions to my library. Kim, since she was an infant, has had this book called “The King and the Whirlybird” by Mabel Watts (1969, Parents Magazine Press). It has been especially interesting for me these days. It opens:
Once there was a King who owned a wonderful kind of flying machine called a whirlybird. He had a pilot who could fly it, by the name of Joe. But the King would not fly. The whirlybird has its very own hangar. And its very own whirlyport. But the King would have nothing to do with any of them. “Flying is for the birds,” he said. “And I’m not a bird!” “There are other ways to travel,” said His Majesty the King.
And he traveled quite a lot.
“The ancient old coach with the wobbly old wheels?” asked Joe the Pilot who was also Joe the Coachman.
“That’s the one,” said the King.
“The coach that goes careening down the hills?” asked Joe. “The coach that throws you down into a heap upon the floor?”
“You know perfectly well which one I mean!” said the King.
“The newest way to travel is by whirlybird,” said Joe. “It’s the modern way for going round about!”
“Flying is for the birds,” said the King. “And I’m NOT a bird!”
Now, Joe was more than a faithful pilot, the man was a jack of all modes of transportation. More importantly, each time the King would choose something other than the whirlybird, he would subtly remind the King that whatever mode of travel he used, it paled compared to the whirlybird. Here’s a sample:
Every day Joe showed the King all the wonderful things the whirlybird could do. He spun it right straight up in the air, which its engines buzzing and its rotors turning. He spun it right straight down, the same way. He made is shuttle sideways. And backwards. And full speed ahead. He made it hover above the King and waggle its tail…like a hummingbird over a honeysuckle bush.
“There’s very little traffic in the air,” said Joe. “Besides, it would do Your Majesty good to try something new!”
Miss Watts takes us through several modes of transportation that the King chooses instead of the whirlybird. Each time, Joe would faithfully challenge him, but we read:
… the King would not fly. He was a regular old king-in-the-mud!
Consider whether or not you are like the King. Here’s what I mean. Those who are in Christ are co-heirs with Him (Romans 8:17); we are kings and queens just as our parents Adam and Eve were created to be; we rule as God’s representatives. Just like the man in the book, we are blessed with position and power.
Secondly, in Christ, God has given us tasks to do – a mission. We each have a vocation and family (provinces of the kingdom) from the Lord that is our duty as kings and queens to “rule.” Reading in our little book, you’d see that the King was a very busy man with much to do.
Thirdly, in Christ, Paul tells us something outrageous, “He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He also not freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) All things: the Holy Spirit (see Luke 11:13). For us, He is just like Joe – someone who reminds us that we have whirlybirds and don’t need to use coaches that leave us in heaps on the floor.
So, like Joe reminding the King of the whirlybird, this most exalted and glorious Person living in us strengthens us to do our work by reminding us of the gospel. Jesus did say that the content of His ministry would be the same message of Christ when He walked the earth (John 14:26).
Lastly, however, the King ignores Joe and his message and goes about his work his own way. We are like regular old kings-and-queens-in-the-mud: we ignore the Holy Spirit and the gospel and choose to do the mission of God (jobs, families, or relationships) in our own ways. Like the King, we prefer coaches, running-by-foot, horses or trains. We quickly and regularly run out of the steam we need to obey Christ and we do not (which is serious because He says that if we love Him we will obey Him; John 14:15).
The King knows he has the whirlybird; he listens to Joe extol its virtues and sees its wonder. But, he stubbornly refuses and sets off to do it his own way. We, too, know the gospel and have seen the glory of its work, but we stubbornly refuse to dwell on it, think on it, pray about it, or depend on it. “It’s got to be more complicated than that!” The book finally takes the King into a situation where nothing and no one can be of any help. So, you know what he does? He calls for the whirlybird.
Joe made the whirlybird hover over the palace, like a puppet on a string. He made it really whirl, like a windmill with wings. And the King was delighted, “Flying is for the birds,” he said. “And it’s great for people, too….There are many ways to travel,” said His Majesty the King. “And the whirlybird is best!”
Delight yourself in the Lord and the work He has done for you in Christ and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4)!