Gloria Furman is a church planter’s wife whose new book, Glimpses of Grace, explores the reality of God’s grace in all of life — even those areas which seem the most mundane and boring. Her richly theological reflections are helpful for us to experience the gospel’s extraordinary power to transform our day-to-day lives. Gloria and her husband Dave have three children and live in Dubai where they planted Redeemer Church.
One chilly desert night my husband and I were on a date at a shopping mall. There were singing fountains at this mall. These fountains were synchronized to play according to selected songs. Each night starting at 7 p.m. these songs would play through the speakers around the fountain, and the water show would happen every half hour or so. Only a few select songs were in the rotation. There were songs from different genres of music—an Arabic song, a famous Bollywood song, and a Celine Dion song or two, plus a selection from an opera.
On this particular night there was a song I had never heard before, but it sounded vaguely familiar. The hauntingly beautiful melody echoed from the speakers—the lyrics were Swahili. I recognized the phrase “Baba yetu” and a few other Swahili words from the brief time we had spent in Kenya. This song was the Lord’s Prayer, sung by a Swahili choir. The fountains danced as the choir was singing of the glories of our Father God, who provides everything we need for life and godliness through his Son Jesus Christ.
A chill went up my spine. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and the place in which I was hearing it. These were Jesus’s ancient words that have been proclaimed to generations and generations of people who would hear with their ears and see with their hearts that Jesus is the ultimate answer to that very prayer.
God our Father is holy, holy, holy, and he is worthy of our worship. But we can’t hallow his name, because we are utterly sinful. Jesus did the Father’s will perfectly in his life and in his death. Jesus is our daily bread, as he declared himself to be the bread of life. Through Jesus we are forgiven, and through Jesus we can forgive others who sin against us. Jesus was led into temptation, yet he conquered sin. When we are tempted to sin, then Jesus gives us his strength to choose joy and life in him instead. Jesus leads us into righteousness and life eternal—not into temptation. Jesus delivers us from evil and will finally swallow up evil forever.
Jesus is the ultimate answer to the Lord’s Prayer.
My heart wanted to explode right there as I leaned on the iron fence surrounding that fountain. I felt like wailing and dancing at the same time. How could such a magnificent truth be entrusted to people like us to neglect it and forget about it and spurn it? How could the God who indwells us with his Holy Spirit be so patient? How could he desire that we not perish? How great is our God who gives us a hope that will not fail or put us to shame as he pours his love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us? (Rom. 5:5)!
I looked over my shoulder at this crowd of at least a thousand souls hailing from nations across the globe. The Lord brought this passage in Isaiah to mind:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined….It will be said on that day,“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.This is the Lord; we have waited for him;let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” (Isa. 25:6–9)
Jesus is the hope of the nations! Yet so many people don’t wait for his salvation. We die trying to save ourselves. As I watched and listened to the singing fountains, tears slid down my cheeks and were caught by the wind. The emotion I felt that night was a shadow of what Jesus felt as he looked out over a crowd once and said he was moved deeply because the people were like sheep without a shepherd.
Jesus was pleased to die in our place. He justified the ungodly and gave us his righteousness. No one took Jesus’s life; he laid it down himself (John 10:18). Would you look to Jesus to lead you? “For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 7:17). Let no other trust intrude as our great Shepherd leads you to the nations.
Modified from Glimpses of Grace by Gloria Furman copyright ©2013. Used by permission of Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Il 60187, www.crossway.org.