Time Out


John Eldredge discusses his disconcerting belief in a third kingdom.

I’ve noticed something crucial about the way I see the world.

I’ve been more than a little peeved about the way life turns out. As if I could say when and where the battle will come and go, and more importantly, as if I could simply take a time out from life.

What I’ve realized is that I believe there are three kingdoms in this world instead of just two. In addition to the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness, I think there is a  third place that is sort of neutral ground, “normal life,” that place we can go to when we just want to get out of the fray. There’s God stuff, there’s the darkness, and then there’s going out to eat or taking a day off and all that stuff we call normal life that doesn’t really impinge on God or the enemy.

I’m embarrassed by the naiveté of my thinking.

And by how deeply ingrained it is. Really, I think I can jump into Kingdom stuff like ministry or writing or Bible study, fight the necessary battles involved there, and then jump out into this third place where I just get to watch the NCAA games or go get some tacos in a sort of benign reality that is neither really about or with God, nor evil. A kind of time out place. Then I get miffed when life doesn’t work out like that.

I know I have this mindset all the time, but it is especially noticeable during those times when I think I ought to be able to check out. Like during Spring Break. Really, for some odd reason I think that because I want to check out the collision of the kingdoms ought to pass me by. But instead I have to pray because the enemy is coming on strong and we can’t sleep, let alone sleep in, and I’m ticked about it.

I don’t think I’m alone in believing (or wanting to believe, holding fast to the belief) that there are sort of three places in the world: the Kingdom of God, the kingdom of darkness, and this third place we call “normal life” or just living or especially time out.

But you can’t find that third place in the Bible. The view of reality presented there allows for only two kingdoms. Any life or joy or rest comes only as we abide in God, and walk with him. Not through this mythical time out I want to cling to.

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