The fresh, woodsy scent of balsam fir fragranced the living room as I hung three new ornaments on our tall, skinny tree. Each ornament came from a royal palace – two in England and one in France. All three were souvenirs of our family’s first summer vacation in Europe – a trip somehow squeezed in between frequent jaunts to the dance studio, the orthodontist and the library.
Visiting a palace is a humbling experience.
Even before you set foot inside, the high gates, uniformed guards and long “cues” remind you that you are one of many foreign tourists, not really a guest.
Inside, massive collections of fine art and treasured possessions join with expensive décor to offer an impressive glimpse into the personal lives of the kings, queens, princes and princesses you read about in history books. Looking at Queen Victoria’s own doll house as we stood in her childhood bedroom, the very room where she was born, was a memorable moment.
In London, Kensington Palace is now home to Prince William and his growing family. And Buckingham Palace is still home to Queen Elizabeth II. But in France, despite its glittery gold gates, grandiose Baroque architecture and expansive gardens, the Palace of Versailles is no longer home to any royalty.
Long gone are King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette. Both were beheaded in 1793 when the monarchy was abolished in the French Revolution.
It’s strange indeed to gaze at the king and queen’s magnificently grand lifestyle knowing how terribly their reign ended. The kingdoms of this earth totter and fall.
While touring the homes of kings and queens was fascinating, at some point, no matter how old or fancy it is or who once owned it, stuff is just stuff. No matter how rich or powerful a ruler is, eventually he passes away and leaves it all behind.
This realization could make life seem rather meaningless. But by God’s grace, it instead reinforced for me what is meaningful and made me long for God’s eternal kingdom.
Can I tell you about the glorious splendor of God’s kingdom? First Timothy 6:15 says our God is the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords. Psalm 145 says God’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and His dominion endures through all generations. And 1 Peter 2:9 says we who are God’s children are His special possession, chosen and royal.
One glad day the King of kings will welcome His children into His holy palace not as tourists or guests but as adopted sons and daughters. Members of His royal family!
As King David prayed in 1 Chronicles 29:10-13: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is Yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and You are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all. In Your hand are power and might, and in Your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank You, our God, and praise Your glorious name.”
I pray this gives you hope and joy this Christmas. And I pray that God draws you ever closer to Him in 2018. Merry Christmas!