about the lord’s prayer, part ii

[You can read Part 1 here.]

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven – Simply put, the majority of this year I was paralyzed by fear. I have a tendency (Okay, more than a tendency. What’s a word like “tendency” that means “completely obsessed with”?) to be very black and white. Anyone who knows me will testify to that. This also, not a good thing. I’m so black and white, I often can’t see all the beautiful shades of grace that cover them. Many times I, resultantly, am left with a distorted form of legalism that dictates my every move. The biggest problem with that is when it’s time to make a decision, or, um, not make a decision.

Basically my mindset says, “Okay, if I go this way, I might be disobeying God because of this thing. If I go that way, I could possibly disobey God because of that other thing. If I stay the way I’m headed now, it too might be a level of disobedience.” I was so horribly afraid of disobeying God, I couldn’t move in any direction. And the ultimate fear came in knowing that not moving could too be a disobedience.

See how this could make someone crazy?

Repeatedly God told me to relax. I’ve got Bible story after Bible story I read that affirm how God’s plan is perfect and his power bigger than anything I could ever do. My aunt shared a story recently about another family member who once told her, “I can’t make a mistake.” Not meaning she was perfect, but that nothing she could ever do would ever be a “mistake” in God’s eyes, for he uses all things for his plan whether we perceive them as good or bad.

Maybe this sounds elementary, and writing it, it feels like a “duh” moment. I could tell you stories from last year and the year before when God tried teaching me this same lesson. And I get it for a moment but then it somehow slips away and I’m once again left afraid of doing something wrong.

This too affects not only second-guessing everything I might do but also everything I’ve done. “Was I wrong to do this? Did I hear God right about that? That must have been a wrong move. Now he’s upset with me. Now that door of opportunity is closed because I made that wrong decision.” It feeds back into my fear about the future.

God’s name is holy, we talked about that yesterday. Moreover, he is holy. He is set apart. His is bigger, stronger, better than we give him credit to be. I firmly believe that almost every incorrect perspective we have in life stems from our inability to understand the sheer magnitude of God’s power and the reach of his intricate plan.

Really, when we pray, “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” we acknowledge his will while recognizing that it will be done on earth. It’s not whether or not he can complete his will on earth, but whether or not we will see it, appreciate it, and glorify him as a result.

Give us this day our daily bread – Okay. This is the hard one.

I’d say I’ve literally been praying this prayer for as long as I can remember, probably since Pre-K. And now, 25+ years later I’m finally understanding what it means.

The understanding began a couple years ago with study of the Elijah story and resulted in a raven tattoo this year to signify God’s power in providing for us daily.

I’ve written several times this year about God’s promise to provide for us through this year in a miraculous way. And he’s done it in ways you may or may not believe even if I told you. We’ve always had a house and transportation and clothes and food. And maybe we haven’t had as much as we wanted of some things, but we have never been without. It’s pretty incredible.

I say that knowing that I have never been as constantly stressed about one thing as I have about our finances this year. I literally worried myself sick until I couldn’t sleep and my entire body ached. It hasn’t been pretty. There God was, providing for us day after day, giving us our promised daily bread, and I wanted my yearly bread. I wanted a guarantee that he’d provide for us the following days or weeks, as if remembrance of his past provision wasn’t guarantee enough. Ironically, I was writing a chapter in the book about this very topic while stressing 24/7 about our own daily bread and whether or not God would come through again.

I’m not going to get fully into my security issues, which is what a lot of this stress exposed–that my security was in guaranteed financial stability and not God. That’s the simplified version.

A well-timed devotional recently struck me with one powerful line: “Once you have become grateful for a problem, it loses its power to drag you down.” How the hell could I be thankful for the issue that caused me more anxiety than I’d ever known? How could I be grateful for constant financial despair? Tons of ways, really, when I really started thinking about it. Here’s a couple:

• Because I am uniquely positioned to see the power of God’s daily provision in a way some people may never know. Because people who have more money see less need for God in some ways or have their eyes closed to the characteristic of God who wants to be the only thing we rely on daily. That doesn’t mean they’re inherently sinning with their money, but they may never see God provide the way we have.

• This should be the most freeing thought and realization yet. For a very long time, I was in a mindset that I had to be the one to care for me. That I had to do the laundry and cook and clean the house. And, later, that I had to get a job to pay for the things I needed. And that if I want things done, I have to do them because no one else will. Of course that turned into a lot of pride, thinking I was the one who brought this money home and I cared for myself and I paid for myself. I will mention I had many loving family members who helped provide and I don’t negate that or take it for granted, but overall I always felt that everything I have I earned.

And now to think, God is showing me that not only can I not do everything and provide everything I need for myself, but he can and, praise God, he will. This is the realization that should make me give up the fight, not in a hopeless, “I quit,” sort of way, but in a hopeful, “I’ll step back and let you do your thing,” sort of way.

I’ll end today with a little snippet from the book, something I wrote months before I actually ever fully grasped it:

“Be happy with what you’ve got. Be thankful for your daily bread rather than desiring your weekly bread or your lifelong bread. Be thankful for the breaths and heartbeats that have sustained you throughout the day rather than desiring perfect health for a lifetime. That we have enough to make it through today is enough for today. We must learn to praise God for meeting every need as it arises. And if he should so choose to bless us with more than we need today, we praise him then, too.”


[Look for Part 3 tomorrow.]