“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Such is the desperation and urgency facing the good guys in “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy as they faced dark days ahead in the storyline.
And unfortunately, the longer we age, we too might find ourselves echoing similar sentiments about living too long as we are forced to deal with events that we wish would happen at some other time and not to us.
Prayer and priorities are a funny thing. When one is askew the other follows.
And it becomes so very easy to use prayer simply as a safeguarding device to ward off fear—mainly over change and our own mortality. In other words, it becomes a kind of cover-all for delaying unwanted change and making time stop as much as possible.
But time keeps marching on and we are merely helpless players caught in its currents.
It is simple Vegas style probability. The longer you spin this roulette wheel of life the greater your odds of landing on a disastrous number. And the older you accrue years under your belt the easier it is to find storm clouds gathering from all angles in the form of myriad health scares and serious surgeries.
Surely the more you ponder it the more impossible and disproportionate the ledger sheet seems in terms of cost versus profits.
Of course, asking for strength in comporting ourselves well during a challenging period is understandably a very appropriate and worthy prayer to make.
But the Christian faith offers us a radically different deliverance from all this.
Most importantly, we have the promise of hope that cannot be supplied anywhere else, thanks to the death on the cross of Jesus Christ which means, like T.S. Elliot wrote, “in the end is our beginning.”
So instead of being bogged down by details and wanting to negotiate specific outcomes, we can feel the joy and the meaningfulness that transcends transitory notions of success and legacy.
And when I do feel in synch with my priorities and my prayer life and the flow of the Holy Spirit is at its clearest, I pray best by simply expressing my desire to be preserved and protected in the love of Christ—regardless of outcome.
To remain wrapped up in HIS love and not to be separated. And that is enough.
And I can’t think of a better way to express this than by repeating what Fred Rogers prayed to a friend of his:
“Dear God, encircle us with Thy love wherever we may be.”