Sometimes it’s not our What-ifs that need to change, it’s the Realm that we’re living in. Allen Arnold says, “The reality is that there are two realities. The question is which one are you living from? Are you living in the Freedom Realm or in the Orphan Realm?”
The reason it is important to know which realm you are living in is because it is the atmosphere of how you interpret everything in your life.
The story of scripture is God awakening orphans to their true identity. The two Realms look similar, but they are at war with each other. The Orphan Realm is productivity based. The orphan’s main desire is to do things for God. This Realm is rule based, and in it, you look for ways to control your world. The thing is, control is an illusion. The Orphan Realm also is constantly asking the question, “How am I doing based on how you’re doing?” It is scarcity based and runs on fear.
In the Orphan Realm you’re running after success. But the tricky thing is that the enemy keeps changing the definition of success, so it never quite arrives. We’re never quite successful. Is successful when you’re child sleeps through nap time and doesn’t get up? Then success now becomes sleeping two days in a row. Is success when you can conjugate verbs in your host language? Well, once you’ve got verbs down, now you’ve got to work on your nouns. There’s always something more in the Orphan Realm.
The Freedom Realm is presence based instead of rule based, and the main desire is to be with God more. This is a kingdom based Realm, so human made rules don’t apply. It’s a place where faith and mystery exist together.
Let’s look at some of our What-ifs.
- What if my language skills are better than my teammates?
- What if my language skills are the worst on my team?
- What if my children struggle on the field?
- What if I meet someone “back home” and leave the field?
- What if I don’t read the Bible consistently?
- What if I didn’t feel I had to “look good” for everyone, local friends, teammates, and supporters?
- What if I’m happy on the field and my spouse is not, or vice versa?
- What if I spend time with God doing something I love?
- What if I don’t have friends near me?
- What if I’m happier than I ever imagined I could be?
- What if I’m more lonely and miserable than I ever imagined possible?
Those What-ifs are going to look really different depending on what Realm you live in. What if my language skills are better than my teammates? In the Orphan Realm, you have to keep up your skills at all cost. If your identity is based on your language ability, it’s never going to be enough. You’re always going to have to be improving.
However, in the Freedom Realm, it doesn’t matter in the same way. Now you and God are using your language ability to connect with people, and even to connect with your teammates. It’s no longer a point of your identity, but it’s something that you get to do and use with God.
Let’s look at another one. What if I’m more lonely and miserable than I ever imagined possible? In the Orphan Realm, you are trying to control things. How can I not be lonely? How can I not be miserable? Ironically, if you’re operating out of the Orphan Realm, as you strive to be less lonely and less miserable, you’re going to end up more lonely and more miserable.
What if I’m more lonely and more miserable than I ever imagined, and yet I’m in the Freedom Realm where it’s based on the presence of God? This is where you’re still probably going to be lonely and miserable, but somehow you sense that God is with you, that this is a phase, that it will not last forever, because in the Freedom Realm there is peace and expectancy.
Even if your current reality stinks—there’s nothing fun, or lovely, or fluffy about being miserable— but if you’re miserable and you’re rooted in the Freedom Realm, there is joy and there is expectancy. You realize that you’re part of a larger story. This week, as we’ve been looking at the question of What-ifs, I would like to ask you a question.
What if the What-ifs isn’t the real question, the real question is what Realm do you live in. Do you live in the Orphan Realm or do you live in the Freedom Realm?
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