Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

The sovereignty of a king, a true king, the likes of which we don’t see in our world today is an amazing and scary thing.

I am an unapologetic lover of the Tudor’s, especially the house and court of Henry VIII and his second daughter Queen Elizabeth I. I am fascinated by their history, their lives and the unintended impact they have had on history.

My love affair with this family began when I was 12 years old visiting the Tower Of London for the first time. The story of Anne Boleyn was burned into my mind by the tour guide. I have never been able to put the image out of my mind of a woman who had been so loved, and loved her husband in the same way, running into his rooms and begging for the life of herself, her child and the chance at having another child with him towards the end of their marriage that was falling apart in tatters around her.

Why all the drama? Yes maybe because she was by all accounts a dramatic woman, but she was also a woman who knew her husband, his temperament and his sovereignty.

Henry VIII was sovereign in a way that we, in the western world, don’t really have a concept of. He could do anything he wanted. Get rid of one wife for another? Sure. Break with the Roman Catholic Church for his own ends? Sure. Insist that noble’s sign over lucrative businesses to the crown to fill its coffers? Sure. Having people who threatened his hold on throne executed? Sure. The list of his power and control goes on and one.

Yet, what do we think of when we typically think of this man? Does his name conjure up a picture of an educated, impressive kingly man? No, it’s that one picture. You know the one, where he looks huge, filling up the frame with a huge torso that suggests too much food, clothes that suggest too much money, and a face that suggests too much bitterness. He looks the way we typically think of him, selfish, self absorbed and cruel.

Yet, that doesn’t draw and accurate picture of this man who wasn’t even supposed to be king. The second son of  Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, he was actually being prepared for a life in the church, the Roman Catholic Church. All that changed when he was just a little over 10 years old. His older brother Arthur died, and young Henry was thrust into the role of king to be.

Educated, well versed in scripture, a lover of music, art and literature, by the time Henry was just a little older and had taken the kingship, he began to gather a court that loved the same.

He was considered one of the most beautiful princes in Christendom and was often referred to as the Golden Prince. But, for all his love of the beautiful things in life, he was still king, a sovereign king at that, and was able to be ruthless to keep his crown as was evidenced all through his life. Whenever anyone got in his way, they were put to death and in such a way that it didn’t even look like the king had anything to do with it.

Henry VIII was sovereign in a way that repels and attracts us because we all actually like the idea of that kind of sovereignty for ourselves. Not many of think we would ever go to the extent that he did, but who knows what any of us would be like, if we were brought up as the ultimate last word and controller of everything around us?

One of the aspects of his life that really hits home with me is that he knew the scripture so well. He went to chapel almost everyday of his life, sometimes multiple times a day. He was the one who scoured scripture to come up with the Levitical argument against his first marriage.

He knew scripture inside and out and professed a deep faith in God, yet he didn’t understand that God was sovereign over him in the same the way that he was sovereign over his country, his people. Henry VIII didn’t seem to realize that the sovereign God who created the Universe was sovereign over him too, and, not only that, but he would be answerable to that very same God one day.

Not matter what we think, no matter what we believe, the reality is that God is sovereign. There’s just no way of getting around it.

Yet, we live our lives trying to pretend that we are sovereign, that we have the ultimate control over our life, our destiny. We forget that we can’t make our heart take another beat or our lungs take another breath without God allowing it. How many times do we say “I did this” or “I did that” without ever acknowledging that God made it possible?

Do we really understand what His sovereignty is all about? Or are we like Henry VIII who had such a brilliant and beautiful beginning, yet never acknowledge that there is one who is truly sovereign over all?

“Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will travel to such and such a city and spend a year there and do business and make a profit.’ You don’t even know what tomorrow will bring – what your life will be! For you are a bit of smoke that appears for a little while, then vanishes.”

James 4:13-14

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