My slightly crooked Crown of Life

*image made with the retype app

My oldest daughter, Macee, and I are avid watchers of the Netflix original series, “The Crown”, which depicts the early reign of Queen Elizabeth II in 20th century England. It’s a lovely show with deep emotion and tenderness. It is careful to show many and various perspectives, but highlights that of a brand spanking new queen.

The queen at the time of the first season is young. Shockingly young almost, since in my entire lifetime I remember Queen Elizabeth as a classy lady of at least retirement age or older.  The young Queen has immediate responsibilities, expectations, budgets, and the needs of a nation. While this is just a show, it brings to mind all kinds of monarchs throughout time and the weight of the crown, any crown.

It sounds like a nice idea to be a princess, a queen, a king, royalty of any kind, but we would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t also think it was hard. A crown, even when ceremonial, bears with it the weight of a thousand and some expectations.

James tells us in James 1:12 that we also have a crown.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

But our crown isn’t a crown of expectation – heavy, overbearing, laden with the jewels of what we need to do and how. In order to understand the crown of life James references, we need to broaden our Scriptural vantage point. My study Bible encourages me to consider all of James 1 that leads into James 1:12, first. James 1, remember from week one of our study, is all about the faithfulness of God, the impartiality of our Savior, His wisdom, and His generosity. All those characteristics, James suggests, are first and only found in our Creator and Redeemer God, and then He shares them with us.

Listen to James 1:12 again…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Christ Jesus remained steadfast under trial. He received the crown of life on Easter morning. He is Love itself and loved us first. But He never keeps it for Himself. That is not part of His character. I think this is part of James’s message-

God does not want to keep His gifts to Himself.

This week, we’ll settle on the gift He gives us called a Future. Today, that future comes to us as the crown of Life. Our crown can be gifted because of that particular crown worn on Good Friday.

Look at the following verses that use the same Greek word for crown – stephanon.

Matthew 27:29 – and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”

John 19:5 – So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

Revelation 14:14 – Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand.

All these crowns are the same Greek word, although to us, they seem a million miles apart. Isn’t He so worthy? He took the crown that was full of the weight of death so that we could have life, and really, really LIVE.

Yes, we will have trial and fears, struggle and temptation, but we see life from a crown bearing perspective. The Queen on the show “The Crown” had to practice for weeks before her coronation. She walked halls and stairs wearing this gigantic crown on her head. It didn’t make her less Queen when it shifted to the right because she wasn’t an “expert” crown-wearer.

Neither are we. There are no experts at life and “winners” who receive this crown. We don’t get it because we lived our challenges better than the guy next to us – we receive it because it is a gift. Crowns, like crosses, occasionally “feel” heavy, but we have a Savior who says,

28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This is the crown of LIFE, after all. LIFE! The Greek word for life here – zoes – insinuates not just present life but a fuller life that includes the future. Every time we undergo trial, a deep and personal struggle or even a trial of the everyday variety, we remember our crowns and remember Whom it tells us we belong to. The crown has been won, the victory secured.

Straighten that crown, friend. Look to the future. God is already there. He has this day and every day before us under His care.

My crown may be slightly crooked, but it’s 100% secure.

 

Discussion:

What things happen in life that make you most aware of your crooked crown? (This is an imperfect metaphor, but what in life makes you very much aware that you are less than perfect?)

What burdens are you most thankful that Jesus carries for and with you in this life?

Read 1 Corinthians 9:25-26. How does knowing you have been given the crown of life in Jesus’s death and resurrection change the way you run the race?

8 thoughts on “My slightly crooked Crown of Life”

  1. Favorite read so far! And just what I needed to hear.
    My crocked crown: as mother, as wife, as friend, as sister, as daughter, as aunt, as godmother…and on and on an on, I am reminded of His perfectness through relationships. I struggle and fail BUT Jesus doesn’t! This race called life we are running is for him and his glory. I am thankful I can cast my burden of failures to him and he through his Word strengthens me EVERYDAY. When I am thinking of burdens and control(especially self-control) I can be reminded through the Word, a song, a person God placed in my path just at the right time, through the Sacraments, and many other ways of his heavy burden he took for me. Revelation 2:10: Revelation 2:10 (ESV)

    10 Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.

    PRAISE THE LORD!

    1. Good to hear! While it’s not necessarily literal, Rev. 2:10 reminds me that 10 days is really such a short time in the grand scheme of things, my testing and trial is short in light of eternity. Praises is right!

  2. My impatience at home or behind closed doors with myself and family!

    The past abuse I have endured. Well it is in the past….it never truly leaves…we just learn to let Jesus carry it for us.

    Know when I make a mistake on the race…there is God’s GRACE!

  3. These words were balm to my soul: “Straighten that crown, friend. Look to the future. God is already there. He has this day and every day before us under His care.” It’s been a stressful several days. Without God’s Word on the page and in my heart, without encouragement like this blog, without God’s hand on me showing me the way, I would be lost. His love and protection and steadfastness are my rock in this rocking and turbulent sea that is life!

  4. So encouraging, and I say “Amen” to the previous comments – that I most feel my crown slipping in the areas of life as mother, wife, employee, etc. God is so good in showing me that my weakness, misgivings, mistakes, discouragement are all opportunities for Him to give me more grace. I am imperfect, and perfectly okay with that, so long as God loves me!

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