No Smoke and Mirrors


Psalm 37:23-24 “If the Lord delights in a man’s way, He makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with His hand.” Just like an earthly father should, the Lord prompts me to grow up so I will stumble less and less. The ground beneath me will stay firm because He is the ultimate loving Father in my life with a very strong hand.

In an honest line from the last novel in the Mitford series by Jan Karon (Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good), character Sharon McCurdy says, “It drives me crazy that God… doesn’t allow Himself to be seen. It seems all smoke and mirrors, a fabrication of the silliest sort. How are we supposed to believe?” Then Father Tim wisely responds, “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen.”

There are times I agree with the character in the novel… Even knowing that God has spoken to me through His Son and through His infallible Word, and knowing He has given me His model for prayer in scripture, I struggle with His invisibility. In my humanness, I forget all that I have seen. The enemy incessantly whispers the “silly fabrication” notion in my ear. I become easily distracted by persuasive illusions. Falling for the fraud is part of the infant-only experience. Or is it?

Still, I wish that I could visibly pray face-to-face with my Father sitting physically with me in a quiet, living room-like atmosphere. I forget all that I have seen. And many times I wish my Father’s answers to prayers would come to me in skywriting and be simply unmistakeable. At times, I imagine my position before the Father is precarious…

Yet, through faith in My Father, He convinces me that my position is definitely not precarious — it is solid. I am the legitimate child of my Heavenly Father. No deception here. He removes the bursts of smoke. He removes the retracting mirrors. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” (I John 3:1)

The sermon entitled “Praying in the Spirit” by Timothy Keller reinforces a clearer understanding of the Lord’s Prayer. From a very young child’s perspective, the beginning acknowledgement in the prayer is “Abba Father” which translated, means “Daddy,” or more closely “Da Da.” My two-year-old granddaughter knows that, when she plays with her toy cell phone, “texting Da Da” is indicative of her wonder, love, and the instinctive connection that puts her dad at the top of her list. Immature praise offered unabashedly. The beginning of prayer.  The imprint of baby child onto father is pure and irrevocable. It is just simply – “You Daddy (and for course, mommy), are the most important people in my life.”

While we pray privately much of the time, note that Matthew 6:9 says, “This is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in Heaven…’ ” “Our” stresses corporate prayer, the vitality of prayer when believers gather in unity. The communion of saints. The Body of Christ. “Our” reveals the Father’s heart about how believers should pray, together – in community.

I have repeatedly needed the private reminder that I am a child of “our” God, a daughter, completely adopted, no reneging on this reality. And just like any child, when I keep going back to “our” Father, I am assured that He will mature me, grow me up, see me through His Refining fire, and bring me out of the dark and into the light. Just like in a baby’s birth and subsequent development, dark into light. I will always be His daughter. I can never fall out. I can never be fired. I can never be disowned. I am inextricably bound to “our” loving Heavenly Father. His daughter. His child. Always.

He listens. He wants to hear from me. I Peter 3:12a says, “For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are attentive to their prayer…” No smoke and mirrors here. He makes my steps firm. He upholds me with His hand. He is attentive to my prayer. As my Heavenly Father rears me faithfully, the trajectory of my spiritual rebirth will include some missteps (big and small), but a constant nudge to mature. And a promise to uphold me with His hand. I agree with Father Tim Kavanagh. “All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen.”



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