In church Sunday mornings – we have a time of prayer – where we say, and pray for and about, what’s on our hearts, whether that’s things we’re thankful for, things we’re worried about, all sorts of things – and just after everyone quieted down one Sunday a while ago and every eye was closed – we all heard the sound of two little feet walking, then running up the aisle.
About 400 eyes opened at once, and saw a child, being held tightly by her father, a child who’d let nothing get in her way, who ran up and didn’t care who saw her, the one thing important in her life was being with her daddy.
…and it got me thinking.
Isn’t that what prayer’s all about?
Abba… (no, not the group, Abba is Aramaic, the language Jesus spoke, for father, or daddy.)
We’re supposed to be as little children (Matthew 18:3), just like this child, but so often we let all the worries and “wisdom” that comes with being adults get in our way.
I mean seriously, how many times have you tried to pray, and it’s all just gone south – nothing’s working – the words aren’t coming, you feel like your prayers aren’t making it past the ceiling, like there’s this vast chasm between you and God - and then there are other times when you’re in such a state where you hit your knees in the hallway and skid into the bedroom yelling, “G-o-o-o-o-o-d!” because you’re so messed up you don’t even know what to say or how to pray.
Need the T-shirt.
(note to self: don’t hit knees in the hallway… it’s carpeted)
But this kid…
If God’s unchanging – that must mean that the only difference there is us.
Of course, THAT thought got me thinking some more.
Years ago I heard a pastor tell a story about an old couple. They’d been married for decades, and one day, as they’re on a drive, he behind the wheel, and she leaning up against the window. Suddenly, the wife says to the husband, a little wistfully, “Why don’t we snuggle anymore in the car like we used to?”
And the husband, with his hands still on the wheel, gently gave the only answer to that question that he could. “I haven’t moved…”
He was in the same spot he always was. He was just as available for snuggling, but over time, things got between them, whether it was a drive-in meal, or later a kid, there was a lot of time in the car when the couple wasn’t nearly as close as they had been at the beginning of their relationship.
The husband hadn’t moved, but there was still stuff between them, and they weren’t close enough to snuggle.
And that kid running up the aisle brought it all back – how she’d simply eliminated everything, at a full run, between her and her daddy, so she could be close to him, and snuggle.
My eyes are closed as I write this, remembering…
“Let’s bow our heads in prayer…”
She ran, yes, ran, up to see her Daddy.
And when she got to him, he didn’t scold her for disturbing the prayer. And just like the prodigal son’s father, he did something much, much better. He scooped his little girl up and hugged her – while hankies dabbed at some of the 400 eyes who realized what a miracle they’d just been privileged to see.