“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.” Luke 11: 2-4
Today’s Reading: Luke Chapter 11
One of the things that I’ve learned in the past year (hey…yeah I’ve been writing for a year now!) is that the sharing of our personal testimony, no matter how simple is so very powerful. In so many ways, I’m working to strengthen my faith in what I call the post-honeymoon phase of Christian journey. Being a Christian isn’t so new and shiny anymore, it’s more about holding myself accountable to go deeper into God’s word and mature in my faith. It’s not just about the having faith anymore but about growing in my faith.
When I read Luke 11 today I was struck by the coincidence that in the first several verses we hear the Lord’s prayer that was literally a cornerstone of my Catholic upbringing. The famous painting pictured above hung in both my grandmother’s kitchens as a symbol of their faith. Then, just a few verses later I read the verse that actually opened the door to real faith for me. I want to share that story with you today. I grew up in a strong Catholic family. I attended Catholic school my whole life from elementary school through my doctorate degree at Creighton University. I wouldn’t trade my Catholic roots. I learned about social justice, about self sacrifice and most importantly about the strength that can be found in a group of believers. Even now, as we approach lent I will observe some Catholic traditions as a way to connect with God through discipline and intentional prayer.
In October of 2011, I realized for the first time that I needed a lot more spiritual strength than I had. I hit a literal spiritual rock bottom. Our son had come through a very severe illness and was seemingly healthy again. Until one day he wasn’t. A whole new and different problem arose that had been silent since his conception. Our pediatrician found the problem with Ollie’s heart purely by accident. He heard a murmur that was actually unrelated to his actual more serious diagnosis. I’ll never forget that day. In fact, I now work at the same hospital that we went to for his first cardiac echo. Would you believe that just last week I ran into the technician that performed that echo while at work? Just seeing her face brought that day back to me with full force.
It was a Wednesday. I was supposed to be at work but instead I just drove home and sat alone on my couch. I kept thinking that I should call this parent I knew from work, but I really didn’t know why. I know now that it was the firm hand of the Holy Spirit guiding me. Amy acted quickly. She showed up at my door with her bible in hand and those infamous yellow cards. I have all my cards as you know if you are a frequent reader here. The other thing I have are the memories of the words she said to me. On that day, I was hopeless. I viewed what was happening as a kind of punishment. I was searching for a way to bargain with God to make this go away. Through tears I asked Amy why God was “doing this to me?” What had I done wrong and how could I appease him again so that he would take this suffering from my child. Her answer was this passage from Luke:
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” Luke 11:11-13
For the very first time in my life, I saw God as a gracious and loving Father. For the very first time. I understood that my pain and sadness were not something He was “doing” to me rather something that He was using to bring us closer to Him. Now, when I face these types of situations, and I often do, I have the ability to look to God for strength and trust in Him that there is a greater plan. What a miracle! Our Father is there for us. In the daily ritual of a prayer and in the bigger chasms of our life. I hope you’ll read Luke Chapter 11 today and receive the comfort and strength that our Father has for us. Certainly, there are lessons to be learned but also the reminder that He is with us always.