This week my kind boss MADE me take a week of work off (?!) to “find joy and rest”. I, at first, didn’t want to; I’m fine–I mean, have I been exuding that much tension that I would need an entire week to “rest”? I didn’t think so; but, truth is, I am not okay. I am so worn; so tired. I am running on empty with 1000 more miles to go. My eighteen year old sister (aka, my lifelong partner in crime and laughter) died in a crash this past December. I am sure that this sort of grief is hardly masked to the outside. Though I fought it, I am grateful he saw me, and my heavy heart, going out of his way to give me what he felt I needed. Such a kind man.
I had great expectations for this week of rest. Solitude and serenity…that was my mental picture. I hoped that I would come back to work “fixed”, ready to take on the struggles that come with my job working with and mentoring the children that live in my impoverished (in almost every way) neighborhood. I also hoped that I would “meet Jesus” somewhere within the time I had to “step back”. I really need to hear from Him. Just thinking about it fills me with longing. One word would ease everything. I was ready to hear him, and willing to surrender. Sadly, this week didn’t turn out as I expected. Though I was able to go to the beach, journal, visit my little brothers and sisters–still with my parents–I didn’t get a “word” from my Jesus. Frustration and disappointment ensued. Was I not “resting” well enough? What was He waiting for me to “do”?
Tonight, after training Jiu Jitsu, I was driving home, fully occupied with my jams/music. I had iTunes on shuffle, and a song by Jon Foreman (that I habitually listen to) came on. The song was almost over, coming to the refrain modeled after Matthew 6:9-14. I’d heard it so many times that I wasn’t attuned to it, until I heard the kindest tone written into the words of Jesus’ prayer to His Father, and His exhortation beforehand.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Pray then like this:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.”
For me, this has always been an obscure little prayer, and Jesus’ tone has always sounded stern here; showing us how to pray “the right way”. But, with His kind eyes, I felt the words with more weight than usual. This is what I heard:
“Anna, beloved, you don’t have to get my attention with the right words, the right state of mind, or the impressive things you do for Me. Do not be like those that do not see My love for them, and feel the stress to obtain My attention, for your Father sees you, and knows your heart’s desire before you are even attuned to it. With this knowledge, pray like this:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, for my heart overflows with how you love me. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven–for in heaven, there is perfect communion, and this is what we long for. Give us what we need today to keep pressing towards the prize ahead, and forgive us for disbelieving you, turning after other “gods”, just as we also have forgiven those who have hurt us while doing just that. And lead us not into temptation to seek another’s face rather than Yours, but deliver us from the lie that You aren’t enough.”
This Prayer for me has become the kindest, most thoughtful prayer, though so simple. Jesus knows what we need, and that’s why He demonstrated such a prayer. We are a people groaning for the fullness of redemption, and He gives so much space to weep with Him, laugh with Him…until the end where we see redemption with our eyes–and faith will be replaced with loving Him face to face.