Sunday, November 23, 2008

The King Came Down

The mid-day light struggled through low, filtering clouds, and the incessant rain painted layers of gray upon gray, but the ancient Korean palace radiated color and opulence. Though many centuries old, the meticulously restored and maintained buildings and grounds were pristine, and to the melody of the tour guide’s sometimes-timid English, I could almost see the majestic Korean king descending from his throne.

“According to legend,” the young guide said, “the king wished for nothing greater than to provide the best for his people in the villages surrounding his palace. It is said that he would often come down from his throne and exchange his royal robes for the rags of a poor, humble servant. His bare feet treading the rough stone streets, he would talk with the villagers. More importantly, he would listen to them, eventually returning to his palatial home, better prepared to meet their needs.”

As I stood in the small crowd of tourists, I was struck, as I’m sure others were, by the kind of king this ancient legend described. And when the guide had ended her account, I felt compelled to speak up.

“This king of legend reminds me of my King,” I offered. And as the crowd and their guide turned toward me, I went on. “I serve a King who did more than visit his people, dressed as one of them. You see,” I told them excitedly, “My King is the King of kings, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, and the Creator of all that is. Yet He loved each of us so much that He gave up His throne in Heaven to come to Earth, to be born as a baby, to take on the form of a servant, to grow up facing everything that we face, and to willingly give his perfect life as a sacrifice for our imperfection… so that our every need might be met. He didn’t come just to find out how we live, but to show us how to live.”

“That’s right,” the young guide replied. “I serve King Jesus, too. And when I tell this legend of our ancient, Korean king, I am always reminded of the true King.”

I don’t know what thoughts went through the minds of the travelers that surrounded me as we continued our tour. I don’t know if the Holy Spirit was at work in hearts that drizzly day in Seoul. But I thanked God for a young Christian guide who told a most compelling story, one that I hope might have opened some heart to the simple message of a gracious God and King.

The light of the sun still passed dimly through the thick, dark clouds, and the steady rain ran noisily off the ancient tile roof of Changdeokgung Palace. But the light of the Son seemed to dispel the darkness, and the day had become one I would long remember and cherish.