Dr. Jim Mann
I’ve talked to so many of you during this COVID-19 scare, checking in, seeing if you’re okay. A few of you, not many, I found to be fearful. Some of you, like me, are angry. But 100% of us are anxious. Anxiety is a general sense of unease or uncertainty.
Even those who have walked with God for years, who have “tasted and seen” his goodness, still have lingering doubts and questions. Why would God let this happen? Has he forgotten us?
There’s nothing worse than being forgotten. It feels so lonely. And many of us are “there” right now. What we wouldn’t give for someone to remember us and place their arm around our shoulder and walk with us through the scary forest of our lives—with all the frightening sounds and darkness.
I encourage you to read the Lord’s Prayer this week. It is a cry out for a Father in the scary wood.
That’s why Jesus’ example in prayer is so important! He reminds us that our cries are heard! We’re not just speaking to ourselves. We’re not just wishing away anxiety. We actually say “Our Father” to one who is already there. We’re like the little boy Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1-10) in the Old Testament. God’s already calling our name before we even call on him. He is our Father!
So, Jesus framing his prayer with “Our Father” isn’t patriarchal, but is meant to tell us something about God. The Hebrew word for male is zakar (Gen. 1:27). It literally means to leave a mark or make an impact, but more commonly in the ancient Near East someone who remembers something important and moves to act on that.
Our Father is someone who remembers us and crosses relational space to give something good. He remembers our needs and moves in costly love to carry the burdens of our souls, even to carry us.
So, take a few minutes to read Matthew 6:25-34 from the Sermon on the Mount. You’ll find it particularly poignant to our situation right now.
In the passage, Jesus says, “Don’t worry” five times.
But don’t read it like we normally do—as some sort of corrective and Jesus is telling us how to get it right. Every time I tell my wife to stop worrying it just makes her mad.
Instead, read it this way—Jesus is telling us what it feels like, looks like, smells like, and tastes like to be remembered. This is what it’s like to have God snatch us back from the cliffs of anxiety we’re peering over. This is what it feels like to have God’s arm slide around your shoulder before you enter the dark and foreboding woods.
Remember, he’s the Father who is already there, calling us before we ever call upon him. And he loves you.
Jim Mann, Ph.D. pastors New Life Church at Robson Ranch. This interdenominational church meets at the Robson Clubhouse on Sunday mornings at 8:30 a.m. Visit www.newlifedenton.org for more information or www.drjimmann.com.