Welcome To Patient Kingdom

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Who is Ross Byrd?

Ross and his wife Hannah are from Virginia Beach, VA, where Ross serves as Teaching Director for Virginia Beach Fellows. They have four children and make their living running Surf Hatteras, a destination surf camp for kids in the Outer Banks, NC. Ross received his bachelors from UVA and his masters in theology at RTS. He was raised in the Episcopal Church and served as a lay minister there for years before a stint as associate pastor of a non-denominational church. He is a somewhat accomplished amateur musician and songwriter and a very failed novelist. His own thoughts are mostly veiled translations of the works of C.S. Lewis, G. K. Chesterton, George Macdonald, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Billy Joel. He is also greatly indebted to the more recent symbolic thinking of Jonathan & Matthieu Pageau. Ross writes and teaches on the Bible, the Christian life, and the riddle-like nature of the kingdom of God. His work can be found at Mere Orthodoxy, Mere Sanity Podcast, and here at Patient Kingdom.

What is Patient Kingdom?

Patient Kingdom is Ross’s public writing project on the riddle-like nature of the kingdom of God and the unfolding mystery of “mixed agency.” It’s about why God seems to hide and how we can learn to see and hear him, even in an increasingly noisy world.1 

To get a taste, keep reading.

We are living in a very strange moment. Our civilization is wealthier, safer, more educated, and more comfortable than any civilization at any time in human history. And yet, something is happening to us. Mental health crises. Marital failures. Identity confusion. Mass shootings. Drug addictions. Online addictions. Suicide. All dramatically up and still rising. We are physically safe and comfortable, yes. And yet somehow we are not.

A kind of unseen spiritual virus—think: Covid for the soul—is having its way with us. Our personal and cultural demons are quickly gaining the upper hand, and it’s not just religious people who are noticing. The restlessness of our souls is quite literally killing us. For the last twenty years, members of the US military have been four times as likely to die by suicide than to die in combat. On college campuses last year, 77% of students reported mental health issues, 28% reported intentionally injuring themselves, 15% reported suicidal ideation, and 2% actually attempted suicide. Two. Percent. Suicide is now the second leading cause of death on college campuses and in the military. I would like to blame the severe drop in church attendance and religious affiliation over the same time period, but then I’d also have to admit that professing Christians are seemingly equally affected by these crises. 

What does it mean? And where is God?

What do we do with all these anxieties? With our unanswered prayers? If Jesus died and rose again 2000 years ago, why is the world still so unsaved? Even more so, if I believe in him, why do I still feel so un-transformed? What is the purpose of all this waiting and suffering and believing? Why are God’s actions in the Old Testament so hard for us to understand? Why, even when the Messiah appears in the New Testament, does he speak in riddles and hide his identity? Why not be straightforward? Why not get to work! Jesus’s own disciples declared this same frustration and confusion to him when he walked the earth. So what’s going on? 

In short, Jesus could see something they (and we!) could not. The answer, at least in part, is that we are people, not mechanisms. God cannot just “fix everything,” because we are not things, and we are precisely the problem. Salvation cannot be a push-button zap, because we are not like that. He made us to be choosers, actors, lovers—like Him. Our bodies and souls are quite literally held together on every level by a complex relationship of relationships. We are made of loves, and so God must win our loves, transform our loves. Our problem is relational, and so our salvation must be a relationship. He must do surgery on our disordered hearts, so that we can love him (and others) as he loves us. That is the only salvation there is. And, thank God, he has accomplished it for us. But he must also accomplish it in us, or else we can never be saved and he can never be, ultimately, victorious. Which is why…the kingdom of God is a patient kingdom. God is playing the long game.

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“For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make lovelier, that it may love more…Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed. And our God is a consuming fire.”

— George Macdonald, The Consuming Fire

You can't hurry love
No you just have to wait
She said love don't come easy
It's a game of give and take
You can't hurry love
No, you just have to wait
You gotta trust, give it time
No matter how long it takes

But how many heartaches must I stand
Before I find a love to let me live again
Right now the only thing that keeps me hanging on
When I feel my strength, yeah, it's almost gone
I remember mama said
You can’t hurry love

—Diana Ross & The Supremes

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”

—Matthew 13:31-32

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As my wife lovingly pointed out to me, Patient Kingdom is also a wonderful song and album by Sandra McCracken. Though I promise I’m not purposely stealing the phrase, my familiarity with Sandra’s album does predate the creation of this page, so I’m sure it had something to do with my unconscious gravitation to that marvelous pair of words. Yet, at the risk of offending—or worse, appearing unoriginal [gasp]—I can do no better. No other two-word phrase says so well the thing I hope to say with this project. As someone who genuinely prides myself on originality, this is difficult to swallow, but probably providential. Sandra, if you ever come to read this, I am at your mercy. I will change if you ask me to. Or advertise you more. Until then, thank you for your lovely songs and voice and words.

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Nothing is hidden except to be made manifest


Theology, philosophy, story. Herder of 4 kids, writer, musician, surfer. All views are Lewis's, Chesterton's or MacDonald's. Teaching Director at VB Fellows. Runs Surf Hatteras. Essayist @ Patient Kingdom / Mere Orthodoxy. Podcast: Mere Sanity.