Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Our Father...

March Madness is in FULL swing, and much of the United States tunes into the games, even while at their desks on the job. Many are glued to any device that will feed the fast-paced, nail-biting struggle between the Goliath’s of the hardwood and the David’s who earned the right to face them.  It’s an intense, exciting time for sports fans who love to see the skirmishes where small mistakes remain for a lifetime in the minds of players and decades in the memories of the university’s fan base.

You see players who love to compete AND who rise to the occasion to propel their teams to victory. Every mistake has ramifications, and victory is often dependent on a last second act of heroism.

Have you ever observed the parents of the players while their child is in the thick of competition? CBS and TNT’s camera crew make sure that we experience the reactions of parents in the crowd.

Try to imagine it. Your son steps to the free throw line. If he hits one shot, it’s a tie; then an eventual overtime. If he hits the second, he seals the victory.  If made, you were part of raising a hero. If missed, you may have to pick him up and dust him off when the emotional rubble of the event settles.

As a parent of a toddler and preschooler, I’m not seated watching their performance on a stage like the NCAA Tournament, but I’m painfully aware of the desire I have for my kids to succeed. I want them to live some of my dreams and accomplish their own as well. In fact, I need to surrender my dreams for them and make sure I do all I can to help them achieve dreams that are God-honoring that they have for their own lives.  

Recently, I tried to pray the “Lord’s Prayer” each day for two straight weeks. The first phrase, is “Our Father….”  You know it: Matthew 6: 9-13.

On a sleepless night, after a tournament game, the imagery of parents in the stands came to mind as I prayed for my own kids. Pictures of parents with faces buried in their hands during those intense moments, or a mother cheering with abandon for a son who hit a big shot were fresh in my mind. These thoughts came to me that evening. If He really is “Our Father,” don’t you think God has all that feeling for us, too? Maybe He wants us to achieve His will even more than we want. I’m thankful that His own security and identity isn’t all wrapped up in our performance, but He certainly is emotionally involved in our victories and our failures. He’s figuratively jumping up and down when we succeed and is moved, even with sadness, when we fail. And He works in circumstances and events to redeem the mishaps that cause us grief, shame, or embarrassment. In life, there are definite parallels to the intensity of competition found in the NCAA tournament. In general, life experience is rich and beautiful, but it is also a struggle with seasons that cause us to dig into win.

Isn’t it comforting to know you have a parent in your corner who wants you to succeed even more than you do? I can’t imagine Him biting His nails, but I think His heart wants us to flourish in all the challenges we face.