Ever enjoy a moment when a simple freedom of being a little child-like lifts the heart into feeling strengthened or renewed just a bit? Maybe for some, it’s a good sled ride in the snow or a visit to the state fair midway. Who doesn’t enjoy a good laugh in the company of friends or some silliness when playing with children. Might be a moment of some grown-up pleasure that releases one, if only briefly, from the cares of life? For me? … a warm afternoon in fall, the air a bit cool, the sky brilliant and the top down on a little red sports car, then down shift and power whip through a mountain curve. (I don’t own a little red sports car, but if I did…) It’s there in all of us, I think. The willingness to enter a moment that does not carry adult care or stress which is created by wonder or a thrill or a simple joy.
The above describes some more or less harmless ways to escape. The sad truth is a perceived need to escape life stresses leads many in a search for distractions which blossom into substance dependencies: drugs — prescribed or illegal, alcohol abuse, smoking. Then there are those who bury themselves in “responsible” activities or hobbies; the heart seeks absorption in an activity in order to withdraw, or to be “safe.” The child in us needs a little security against the forces of stress. Unfortunately, many of the strategies which might be chosen to effect this are just sources of more trouble.
What are the sources of our stress? Since this is just a blog post, consider three: relationships, finances, and our own poor reactions and/or choices which bring consequences complicating our relationships and finances!
I think this need for connection with something child-like within is among the reasons Jesus told us to be like little children in order to enter the Kingdom — a kingdom characterized by righteousness, peace and joy! Consider the fullness of child-likeness inherent within the Lord’s Prayer:
The opening embodies a child like response to God that calls him “Father.” Further, the opening acknowledges his power and authority as we state a reminder of his holiness in “hallowed by Thy name.” We next are reassured of our boundaries in accepting like children “your will be done” here on earth. By whom but us? Those who do not know him will not seek his will.
That we are dependent on him for our provision is stated clearly in “give us this day our daily bread.” Also, this statement contains an active immediacy of relationship with God in the words “this day” which clearly implies we seek him daily for supply.
The last two statements are power-rich for providing freedom from stress: “forgiveness” is the first topic of the two, and “deliver us from evil” is the second.
In telling us to forgive in the manner we need forgiveness, we are reminded clearly of several stress relief factors available to us. Forgiveness is at the core of the love which our Father would have us know. It is interesting to me that in the prayer Jesus gave us as the way to pray, no love is mentioned except this action of love. If relationships are stressful, forgiveness is the key to stress reduction within the relationship.
In finding the guidance of the Holy Spirit away from evil, our own and that of others, we find a security in which peace overflows. Yet, there is another clear release from what stresses us. In the Greek, the word “evil” has a surprising additional meaning to simply that which is not holy.
- full of labours, annoyances, hardships
- pressed and harassed by labours
- bringing toils, annoyances, perils; of a time full of peril to Christian faith and steadfastness; causing pain and trouble
- bad, of a bad nature or condition
- in a physical sense: diseased or blind
- in an ethical sense: evil wicked, bad
Next time you pray the Lord’s Prayer, don’t just recite it! Move through it reflectively, meditate on God’s provisions for you as his child at each new topic. Find the inherent peace within a child-like trust in the full meaning of these words. Experience the stresses of life wash pale in the glorious light of the Lord.