His Name is a Dangerous Gift.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

 

This is the third in a series about the Lord’s Prayer. Find the first here and the second here.

Who is he?

Who is God?

 

How would you describe God the Father if you were forced to be blunt and truthful? Is he a bit foggy in your mind? Distant? Capricious? Maybe even randomly harsh or cruel? The story I tell myself about who God is will determine how I understand my circumstances and my world. I am not talking about learning the right answer about who God is, the one you would repeat back to a Sunday School teacher. I am referring to your default internal answer. The one you might not admit even to yourself. The idea that determines whether you act like a person who is in the care of an actively loving God, or a person who is on her own in a dangerous world.

A Name is a Risky Gift

My husband and I recently met a friendly old man along the route we walk. After a few minutes of chatting we asked his name. He hesitated to answer, tried to change the subject,  joked. Finally, he took a risk. His name is Amin. Mr. Amin is of middle-eastern descent. Fear-filled cruelty pervades the world. He was afraid to grant strangers the intimate and dangerous gift of knowing his name. What would we do if we knew he might be Muslim?

God gave us the intimate gift of knowing his name. His name contains his character, his identity, his reputation. That is why we pray that his name be “hallowed”.

Hallow, huh?

Hallowed is an archaic word. When is the last time you heard someone use it, except in October or in the Lord’s Prayer? I learned something about it from my dog this week.

She stopped eating. After a couple of days I took her to the vet. She gave me the sad news that my dog had a life threatening autoimmune disease.  Her white blood cells were destroying her red blood cells. We started her on a bunch of medications and tried everything we could entice her to swallow the potentially life-saving pills. She refused the medication, spitting it out as soon as we glanced away. No subterfuge could fool her. She tasted the pill even when it was hidden in steak. The sweet dog who always greeted us with love and trust did not understand that we were trying to save her life when we tortured her with bitter pills to swallow. We force fed her. She hid and shied away from us. It was heartbreaking.

Why Do You Shy Away?

It occurred to me that God goes through the same thing with us. The reasons he allows chaos and pain are often beyond our ability to comprehend. We secretly wonder if God isn’t as good as we wish. We conclude that God isn’t completely trustworthy.

The phrase “hallowed be your name” means, in part, “let us know you as you are.”  James Bryan Smith reminds us that our understanding of God’s name, determines everything else about the way we live our lives.  (The Good and Beautiful God)

Try This: Jesus’ disciple made a bold request, “Show us the Father.” Make that your prayer. Don’t rush too quickly to the right answer you are supposed to know.

Jesus answered, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:8-11

Look at Jesus in the Bible as if you were following him around. See him as he is. Know that the Father is like that too.

 

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