Give Us Bread…And Free Us From Fear
by Sherri Gragg
“Miss Sherri, did you know your check engine light is on?” asked my mechanic in his slow southern draw from the other end of the phone line.
“Um…yes, Kenny,” I responded. “It comes on and then goes off again. I thought it was a problem with my gas cap because the truck still seems to run fine.” Even I could hear a practiced denial of reality in my voice.
Kenny tried to be polite. After all, it is never easy to call someone who simply dropped their vehicle off for an oil change to tell them a repair is on the horizon as well.
“No, Miss Sherri, your thermostat is going out. The engine isn’t heating up all the way. You really have to get this one fixed.”
My heart sank as I authorized the repair but it was only the beginning. During the next two weeks, things broke around my house until I was convinced there were gremlins running about wreaking havoc as we slept. First it was the downstairs heater. Then in one week alone the refrigerator, dishwasher, and oven went on the fritz. Before our heads stopped spinning, and wallets quit screaming, the heater broke again. The microwave felt really left out so it began scrolling through its settings all by itself. Finally, I unplugged it because I was afraid it would burn the house to the ground.
But God never wastes anything. He takes the worst this broken life throws at us and brings beauty out of it if we allow Him to do so. In the midst of this season of need He led me to study The Lord’s Prayer in which Jesus instructs His followers to ask God to provide for their “daily bread.”
I was so encouraged to learn that the heart of this petition is God’s desire that His children live free from the fear of being in need.
“Give us today our daily bread.” (Matthew 6:11)
It is somewhat strange to find there are two time references in this one short sentence—“today” and “daily.” This is because the Greek word “epiousios” is notoriously difficult to translate due to the fact that it is found nowhere else in the Greek language. As a matter of fact, some scholars have speculated that “epiousios” was crafted by the writers of scripture for this particular verse. Throughout the centuries, theologians have done their best to discern its meaning. Some have said it referenced time as indicated in our common English translation. Others have felt it meant the amount of bread we were to request.
The oldest translation of the Gospels, the Old Syriac, may hold the best clue to the meaning of “epiousios.” These ancient theologians, whose language most closely reflected Jesus’ native language of Aramaic, translated “epiousios” as “lasting, perpetual, never-ending.” Therefore when we pray for our bread in The Lord’s Prayer, we are asking for bread that never runs out.
Jesus’ concern here was greater than our physical need. He was deeply concerned about the carnage the fear of need carves into our minds and hearts. We, the wounded of the fall, all wrestle with this fear. We have been made daughters and sons of the Most High King and yet we struggle at times to sink into the assurance that our loving Father knows our needs and longs to meet them. He knows this and because he wants to displace the haunting fear of want in us, He commands us to ask not only for bread but the bread of continuity—the bread that doesn’t run out.
This prayer is at its heart a surrender of the fears that stalk our quiet moments. Perhaps it is truly bread for your table but it may be something else entirely. It could be an illness, or a wayward child. A career. A broken relationship. Safety for those you love. Maybe someone broke your heart, and you are terrified to put it back on the line. Or perhaps your heart is broken right now, and you fear it will never be whole again.
The fear of need tells us we are in danger, that there isn’t enough to go around. If we are not careful we begin to act out of that fear in our interactions with each other. We become stingy, defensive, jealous, and angry.
Bit by bit, our focus narrows to the temporal and our need at its center. We forget that we are created to love God and that there is joyful abundance in that truth. We lose sight of our Divine purpose to build God’s kingdom in our love and service of each other. In doing so, we pass our need on to our neighbor—It is difficult to be generous when we are busy guarding our own hearts.
God wants better for His children. He wants us to breathe deeply, sleep peacefully, and laugh joyfully. He wants us to be free to live our lives with outrageous generosity for His glory. He wants to come before Him with open hands and surrendered hearts as we trust Him for bread that never ceases.
Sherri’s highly-anticipated book debut, Arms Open Wide: A Call to Linger In the Savior’s Presence, will be in stores nationwide May 6th!
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