One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say: “‘Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.’”
Over the past several years I have realized that many people cannot relate to God, our Father, largely due to unpleasant experiences with their human fathers. Growing up with a male parent who has been cold and distant, or authoritarian and rigid, they cannot see God, the Father differently. And if there is abuse thrown into the mix, physical or sexual, people can find relating to Jesus also difficult. It is to all these people, and I know there are many, that I address this reflection to. Although everybody will find something here that will bless them.
Let me speak plainly. God, our Father is NOT your earthly father. No matter what sort of person your earthly father was (or is), God, our Father, is nothing like him at all. He is not stern and tyrannical; he is not merciless and punishing; he is not cruel and unkind. On the contrary, he is mild and gentle; he is merciful and forgiving; he is loving and kind. And we will discover these things if we go to him. And I’d really like us to go to him. But more than I, HE would like us to go to him. And he is calling out to us now.
So, let us. And when we do, let us do what any little child would do with their father. Climb on his lap and sit on it. This may not be very easy for us to do, even those who haven’t had unpleasant experiences with their dads. And this is simply because we think we are too old to sit on anybody’s lap, even our Father’s. So let me tell you what a Jesuit priest once told me to do when HE was encouraging me to do what I am encouraging you to do. He said, “Imagine you are a little child of about six or seven, wearing shorts and a T-shirt, and plonk yourself on his lap.”
It worked for me, and it will work for you. Just pretend you are a kid and plonk yourself on your father’s lap. And when you climb onto your father’s lap, what is the first thing he will do? Well, almost in automatic response his arms will go around you and he will hold you. Rest your head on his chest and just enjoy the pleasure of being held. In seconds, you will find all those worries and anxieties and fears disappearing, and why not? How can any child be worried when his dad’s holding him? Know what I am saying.
I do this all the time, especially when I feel the blues, and they vanish quickly. I don’t need to pretend I am seven years old anymore. I am happy sitting on his lap just as I am, a fully grown man. And again, why not? Jesus told us to be like little children (see Matthew 18:2-4), and what more natural thing for a little child to do than to sit on his (or her) father’s lap. But, if you wanna be adult and carry all those burdens on your own shoulders, then suit yourself.
Otherwise, climb up on the lap of daddy dearest. And let him hold you real tight!