Where Did That Bump Come From?

I was riding in the back seat with my granddaughter when the car hit a jarring bump and our driver, Julie, the mom of baby Aria Marie, surprised me by saying, “Oh my goodness, where did that bump come from?”  I sarcastically spoke up with “You just ran over the curb!  That’s where that bump came from!”  We all laughed and enjoyed the moment, since a curb is a pretty visible obvious thing we need to avoid, but no harm came to us or to the car.

Later, we talked about how some seemingly obvious things in life, for one reason or another, just miss our attention.  My wife Miran reminded us of an Old Testament story which involved people looking at the obvious with grave consequences if they failed to do so.  It is a strange part of Israelite history recounted in Numbers 21:6-9.  In the midst of successful warfare, God’s people started grumbling about the long journey Moses was leading them on, so God sent poisonous snakes into their midst. 

This odd four-verse-story shows at once God’s love and God’s judgment.  First, His judgment:  these snakes would quickly kill the disobedient since that is what poisonous snakes do, they bite people and bitten people die.  Next, His love which saved them from death by snake-bite was obvious and on display for all who would look!  A bronze serpent atop a staff held by Moses saved the Israelites from certain death.  All these unthankful grumbling Hebrews had to do was to cast their eyes upon the bronze serpent and, voila, they were saved.

When I repeat The Merton Prayer in my time of connecting to God, the first six lines can be a real “downer” until I get to that little adversative word, “but,” which turns things around.  Rather than wallow in the self-defeat of the opening lines, Merton takes us in a different direction with “But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you!”  As a child growing up in a somewhat legalistic church the only ways I learned to “please God” were to stop sinning and do good things.  The Merton Prayer lifts us up to a much higher standard of blessing by asking us to focus on that little bitty word “but,” which I call a fulcrum in this prayer since it changes the focus entirely. 

Obvious, yes, but oh so tiny and, just like the curb Julie ran over and the staff with a bronze serpent on top held by Moses, oh so obviously important for safe navigation in life.  Both the curb and the serpent-on-a-stick are very small compared to the large mountains and rivers of pain, despair, worry, and fears we often see looming huge in our lives. Can Merton’s words here be true?  Can our desires to please God really please Him, even if we imperfectly work out those desires in our lives?  Merton says Yes! I say Yes!  I bear witness to how this amazing prayer with this amazing promise has brought me such joy and peace! Even when, and especially when, I did not have a clue where some of the big bumps in my life came from!

Leave a comment, if you wish, regarding this post or how you found The Merton Prayer and why it is important to you.  Thanks for visiting http://www.TheMertonPrayer.com!

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