My nephew Asher is amazing. Although I don't blog about him often enough, I talk about him all the time. People I barely know stop me in the grocery store or at church and ask how he is doing. That boy has had a literal army of people (OK, technically a figurative army -- they are unarmed, unless you mean 'armed' in the metaphorical Ephesians 6:13 sense of the word, but I digress) praying for him his entire life.
I got to share about Asher when I gave the wrap-up talk at JAM (our church's weekly kids outreach program) last week. The kids are studying the Lord's Prayer this year and the topic of the week was "Thy Kingdom Come." Here's the gist of what I said...
[After some cheesy jokes to get them warmed up...] OK, so tonight I want to tell you about my family. I have 2 brothers and a sister, all younger than me. My brothers are Travis and Chase and my sister is Courtney. Courtney called me just over 2 years ago and gave me some really exciting news: She was going to have a baby! I was thrilled. Then about 3 months later, Courtney called me again. She had gone to her doctor's appointment to find out if she was having a girl or a boy, and she found out she was having a boy... [boys in the room cheered loudly, kinda threw me off! After they calmed down...] but she also found out that the baby wasn't developing normally and had some problems [whole room looked sad and said "awwwww." Lots of crowd participation!].
So my whole family and everyone we knew began to pray for this baby. The doctors said that the baby would need to stay in Courtney's belly [I thought the word "uterus" might freak them out] as long as possible in order to have the best shot at life. And then 8 weeks before her due date, Courtney went into labor. We prayed even harder - Lord, please let this baby stay in her belly at least a few more weeks! We prayed and prayed... but the baby still came, 8 weeks early. Here is a picture of when Asher a few weeks after he was born:
And do you know what we found out after Asher was born? The doctors were wrong! It turned out that he was born at just the right time, and that if he had stayed in any longer he might have had even more serious problems and might not have made it. But he did make it, and here is what he looks like today, at age 21 months:
So we were praying and praying for the baby not to be born yet, but all along God knew exactly the right time. Did God answer our prayer? I think He did, because what we were really praying was Lord, make it right! (which is another way to say thy kingdom come), and God did exactly that, it just didn't happen the way we thought it would.
Now when Jesus taught the disciples to pray "thy kingdom come," the disciples had a very specific picture of what that should look like. When they prayed "thy kingdom come" they were praying for Jesus to set up His kingdom on earth by literally becoming the King of Israel. So how do you think it felt when, instead of becoming King, Jesus was put to death on the cross? It must have felt a little bit like when the doctor came out of the room and told us, "I'm sorry, we can't stop the labor. This baby is going to come tonight." We were sad. We thought the worst. But we didn't realize that God was actually answering our prayer! And He was answering the disciples prayer too, even when Jesus was sent to the cross. By dying on the cross and overcoming death in His resurrection, Jesus did bring His kingdom to earth. His kingdom now lives in us, because Jesus our King lives in us. God is answering our prayers, God is making things right -- it just doesn't always look like what we're expecting or hoping for. Let's pray.
Our Father, who art in heaven
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts
as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power,
and the glory forever,