By Justin McRoberts
This, then, is how you should pray:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”
The only piece of sports memorabilia I own is a baseball autographed by the 1974 Oakland Athletics. The ball is special for a few reasons: first, because 1974 is my birth year and second, the A’s won their third-straight World Series title (and their eighth up to that point). But more than all of that, the baseball belonged to my father and is one of the very few things I held on to after his death. Just as he had done, I keep the ball in a glass display box to keep it relatively safe from dust . . . or a small set of hands.
When my son, Asa, turned four and started playing baseball, he became more interested in the glass-encased ball and began asking questions about it. Mostly, though, he wanted to take it out and play with it. Fumbling around for ways to explain why it was off-limits, I told him that some things are valuable for personal reasons. I talked about my dad and my affinity for Oakland sports. I couldn’t quite tell how much of what I said made sense to him. Regardless, he stopped asking to play with the ball and left it alone.
For a while.
One day about midway through my son’s second season as a Little Leaguer, I walked into my office to find that my autographed 1974 Oakland A’s World Series baseball had been removed from its protective glass case. It was now resting on a small salad plate and was covered by a translucent plastic bowl. In the glass case that originally housed my sacred baseball sat a ball that Asa’s coach had given him just a few days earlier to commemorate his first multi-hit game. This ball didn’t feature names like Rollie Fingers, Catfish Hunter, or Reggie Jackson. Instead, it bore just three words, written in blue ballpoint pen: Game Ball Asa.
My son knew the glass case was for special baseballs. He wanted to share that space with me. He wanted his name there.
Gifts aren’t special because they are kept out of the reach of others. Quite the opposite, in fact. The value of a gift is rooted in its nature as a gift; it must be given. In being given, its value is established and even multiplied. That baseball I kept in a glass case was just one of the 150,000 baseballs used in the 1974 major league season until someone passed it around the Oakland A’s locker room to be signed.
Then, for a while, it was one of the few thousand baseballs autographed by professional athletes that same year. When my father brought it home and then handed it down to me, it became a very different kind of special. Years later, that baseball became a way for me to see and understand something about the way my father saw me. He cherished and valued that baseball. I must be someone very special to him if he wanted me to have it.
The power in a gift is that it changes the recipient.
At the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, I am invited to call myself a child of God and a member of God’s family. Praying “hallowed be your name” takes me further, recognizing that the One whose family I am claiming as my own is the very same One in whom all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities. He is the One through whom all things have been created. The One who is before all things and in whom all things hold together.
I’m a child of that God.
I’m a member of that family.
That’s a bit like being handed The Most Glorious and Sacred Baseball of All Time and hearing, “Here. This
is yours.” And then, expecting to see the recognizable names of revered heroes of faith and history,
finding my own name instead.
No matter what my son cognitively understood or didn’t understand, he emotionally assumed a very special place in my life, my world, and my heart. This prayer is asking you and me to do the same . . . but on a cosmic, divine scale.
The above article is excerpted from May It Be So: Forty Days with the Lord’s Prayer by Justin McRoberts (@justinmcroberts) and Scott Erickson (@scottthepainter). Copyright © 2019 by Justin McRoberts and Scott Erickson. Published by WaterBrook, an imprint of Random House, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, on September 24, 2019. Used by permission of WaterBrook. waterbrookmultnomah.com. Pages 39-41. All rights reserved.
BIO: Justin McRoberts is an author, musician, and retreat leader. He lives in the Oakland/San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and two children.
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