In over six decades of serving as a minister, I have been gifted with hundreds of cartoons, poems, reprints, and sometimes humorous — sometimes inspirational writings. I dearly wish I had written down on each one of them the name and address of the thoughtful person who had shared it with me. Especially would I like to send a word of thanks to whomever sent me the following “prayer.” It is one that struck me this week with special poignancy. ‘Just bet some of you can identify with it as well. Here goes.
Lord, tonight I’m boxed in; the two-way door in my giving life has slammed shut in my face. There is no way I can be everything to everybody. I am stretched out too many ways. I am weary, and in my fatigue I am making mistakes.
Lord, I am turning in my Messiah badge tonight and all my ambitions along with it. I don’t want to be in charge of the world. I don’t have the energy to hold it together. Someone has to be stupid to want to be God; I have way too many limitations to be a good candidate anyway.
I try to love people, but then they tell me that I’m not doing it right. I Do the best I can, but it doesn’t satisfy them. They need You, Lord, not me.
I try to understand others, but their needs boggle my mind and entangle my heart, and then we both trip and fall into a heap on the floor. Like I said, Lord, They need You, Lord, not me.
I try to read the Bible, but it seems everyone has a different interpretation, and wind up more confused than helped. By the way, Lord, why does everyone else have to be wrong in order for one of us to be right?
I try to understand my own feelings, my own directions in life—you know—do it the way everyone says it should be done. Only, I am a very tired, scared, inadequate little Messiah tonight, Lord. I need something that I can’t give myself. I need you, Lord, not me.
I have often wondered who authored that prayer. Could it have been a mother with small children? Could it have been an adult in the “sandwich generation,” someone trying to hang in there with adult children while at the same time taking care of elderly parents. Perhaps it was a person whose need to care was greater than her reservoir of compassion, patience, and endurance. Maybe it was a dedicated teacher or counselor who made the “mistake” of getting too personally involved in the problems of a student or a counselee. (Ironically, it seems that the helper who is most effective is the one who is willing to take the chance of getting “too close.”) It could have been a mom or dad who is reaching the end of his or her rope in trying to guide a child or a teenager. Who could have written such an honest, desperate prayer?
Whoever originated that prayer, you and I sometimes feel like praying it, don’t we? The good news subtly suggested by the prayer is that you and I don’t have to be anyone’s Savior; that positions is already filled, and quite adequately, I must add. He is available to all those we love and who depend upon us. More than that, He is also available to you and me. When those around us need God, not us, and when we need Him, not ourselves, He is there to carry us, guide us, comfort us, and keep us. That, dear readers, is good news!
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