Living the Lord's Prayer
- Tuesday, August 05, 2008
EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Living the Lord’s Prayer by David Timms (Bethany House).
Introduction: The Lord's Prayer and Spiritual Formation
In December 1911, Douglas Mawson, a twenty-nine-year-old Australian geologist and explorer, led a twenty-five-man scientific team to the frozen and forbidding tundra of eastern Antarctica. The team established a base at Commonwealth Bay and sent out small expeditionary parties. After a brutal winter at base camp, Mawson decided to explore the interior with two companions, a dog handler named Belgrave Ninnis and world ski champion Xavier Mertz.
The three men planned to travel twelve hundred miles across the largely uncharted territory, but the conditions proved far more arduous than expected. After six weeks, the men and their dogs had covered only three hundred miles. They decided to turn back, but that very day Ninnis, along with the six strongest dogs and the food sled, vanished into a crevasse. Mawson and Mertz had just a week's supply of food for themselves, no dog rations for their six remaining huskies, and a five-week journey ahead of them to return to Commonwealth Bay.
They set off, shooting the weakest dogs one by one for food as their hunger demanded. Mawson and Mertz noticed deep strips of their own skin peeling off, not realizing that the huskies' livers were poisoning them with toxic amounts of vitamin A. After three weeks—and still a long distance from the base camp—Mertz died.
Mawson pushed on. He made it to Aladdin's Cave, an outpost just five and a half miles from base camp, where fierce winds stranded him for a week. Finally the weather broke and Mawson made the steep hike down to camp. But he arrived too late. The ship sent to pick up his expedition had sailed away just six hours before. Remarkably, six men had waited in case Mawson returned, and they holed up in the camp with him until the ship came back for them—ten and a half months later.
We might marvel at such a story of courage, hunger, and survival. Yet those events a century ago reflect the spiritual journey for many of us. Just as Douglas Mawson could not be tied down to a mundane, ordinary life, many of us feel the same way about our spiritual lives. Surely God did not intend the abundant life to be drab, boring, empty, or tedious. We harbor deep suspicions that something deeper and vaster lies beyond our daily routines. We may not face howling winds and blistering cold or find ourselves stranded on the most desolate and isolated continent of the world, but many of us share the deep yearning to explore the spiritual realm more fully. We want to know the deep interior things of God. Along the way, we face a range of obstacles that stop some of us in our tracks. We find ourselves, at times, distracted—even poisoned—by things we thought were harmless. And then at the moment we feel like we've finally arrived home, we find that the ship has left with most of our friends.
The journey to know the heart of God can seem every bit as exhilarating and stretching as an Antarctic expedition. Thankfully, others have already explored and charted the territory. Christian men and women throughout the centuries have walked the Way ahead of us and left maps and markers, and Jesus has done it most clearly of all.
In the pages ahead, we'll examine some of their findings and discoveries. We'll walk behind them and explore places that perhaps we've not seen before. And we'll see how Jesus captures it all in the Lord's Prayer.
Not everyone wants to be an Antarctic explorer. It's easier and more comfortable to sit at home and let life pass by. Many of us prefer entertainment to exploration. But for those with a spirit of adventure and a hunger for the new, this book invites you to an old Journey. If you're willing to pack only the essentials and pursue the wonderful interior places of faith, we'll get underway.
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