Why did Jesus use the specific word father? He could have used the general description of God. He could have also instructed them to use the formal address of King, or Sovereign, or even Lord. Any of these terms would have been right or acceptable, yet Jesus encourages them to address him as Father. Contrary to modern popular ideals on teaching, Jesus gets right to the point in disclosing what his secret ingredient was to effective prayer—intimacy.
Human beings were created for community. As the creation account reminds us, when God said of Adam, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). One of God’s greatest gifts of being human is the gift of the other… We need others to help us rightly see the world around us. Without other perspectives, our view of the world flattens out. Without different perspectives, we lose vital nuance and depth.
“How many times should we forgive?” Many of us can identify with the question Peter poses to Jesus. It’s humorous to think that Peter might have been trying to figure out the cap at which he maxes out of forgiveness to give each person. However, it would seem that behind his question, and ours, is a fear of people taking advantage of our forgiveness. I can almost hear and resonate with Peter’s heart in trying to assess when enough is enough.
Miraculous! That was the most fitting word that I could use to describe what had just happened to me. I had literally just finished my prayer time and had asked God for insight on what forgiveness was. Journeying back to my tent, I was approached by a stranger who gave me her brand-new Bible, and in its cover was a pamphlet on forgiveness. No one had been miraculously healed from a physical malady, but nonetheless, this felt like my “money out of the mouth of a fish” moment.
Meanwhile our little friend kept running around the house. And then, he started screaming, because why not scream in an empty house that has an epic echo, right? The running and screaming got our attention. We stopped talking and watched him. The more I watched the more I laughed. “Man!” I thought to myself, “kids sure know how to have fun!” Then I remembered I was in my own empty house and what rules were there against running around in circles while screaming in your own house? None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.
“Well how do I forgive anyway!?” I said aloud. I was off a lake in Zambia, talking to God during my devotion time. My tone was slightly annoyed, almost in contradiction to the serene environment of my morning meditation. My prayer time had been going smoothly, up until the point when the Lord began to uncover instances in my life that warranted forgiveness… “You’re going to have to show me what forgiveness is!” I demanded out of frustration.
Why do stories captivate kids so much? Here’s something to consider: Have adults somehow wrongly categorized storytelling as “kid stuff”? Isn’t it true that we never hear the local library advertising story time for adults? And yet storytelling continues to be a significant part of our lives as we read books, watch movies, stream Ted Talks, and follow our favorite Instagram influencers. Perhaps, in our work, we are storytellers by trade…
Jesus was committed to using various forms of storytelling during his three-year ministry. Storytelling is just as important today as it was for Jesus’s listeners… If we want to follow Jesus and be good storytellers, it means much more than being good verbal communicators. We have the opportunity to be good storytellers in our spoken, written, visual, and various digital communication media that we regularly use.
Tasha sat slumped on the bench in the corner of the fitting room. Tears formed and spilled over into her lap, just like the rain outside. Tasha’s friend (she can be Nikki) said, “But we’re getting through this. We are doing this together.”
I received my first prescription for anxiety and depression ten years ago. It was Lexapro. I had been to therapy, and it helped. But the tape still kept playing in my head. When I was growing up, I knew mental illness was a thing, but no one called it that. Touched. A little off. Crazy. Loony. These are the words I heard. The adults in my life inferred that the right amount of faith would cure it, if you were looking for a cure. But mostly, some people were crazy… and others weren’t.