“Ask and you will receive. Seek and you will find. Knock and it will be opened to you. For whoever asks, receives; whoever seeks, finds; and whoever knocks is admitted.”
As I read this parable, the words that leaped off the page at me were not the familiar lines I have just quoted. No, what stood out to me was “in the middle of the night”. As I spent some time with this it occurred to me that when Jesus speaks of the man banging on his friend’s door to borrow three loaves of bread, he comes in the middle of the night. That led me to more questions than answers.
How desperate do I have to be to bang on a person’s door in the middle of the night? How did I get to this door? Where did I come from? Did I leave a place of relative comfort and safety or I am searching for a safe haven for the night? If I bang on this door, do I really even know what I need? Do I have to courage to ask for it? Do I have the faith to admit that I may not know what I need but know deep down that I need something I can only find here? Do I have the audacity to ask for refuge for the night?
One thing I am certain of: if I am going to venture out in the middle of the night in search of something, I would have to be fairly certain that the occupant of this house would open the door. I would also have to be certain that the occupant would be both capable and willing to provide me with whatever it is that I need.
At the encouragement of my spiritual director, I placed myself in this scene and spent several evenings returning to it. The following is what I saw and heard there in the middle of the night at the door of the house of my Lord.
The door opens and I am face to face with Jesus. I can see the kindness and compassion in His eyes. He already knows why I have come and yet He waits patiently for me to speak. I am overwhelmed by exhaustion and a swirling storm of emotions. I am tired, lonely, and completely empty. Again I am frozen, speechless, on the doorstep with tears coursing down my cheeks. Some nasty little voice inside whispers to me “Run! You don’t belong here and you know it.” I can feel the fear welling up inside of me. The insecurity creeps in again. Who am I to bang on the door of my Lord in the middle of the night?
His gaze hold me fixed there on the doorstep and He smiles at me. There is so much love and tenderness in that smile and a gentleness in his eyes like I have never seen. I fight the urge to run. I so desperately need to be here. I want to be here. Why am I so afraid of such great love? The inner battle finally saps what little is left of my strength and I fall to ground at His feet, sobbing uncontrollably.
“I am so tired, Lord and I’ve become so lost again. I just want to rest awhile. I can’t go any further.”
“Come inside. Eat and drink with me. Rest your head. Leave your cares with me. When you have eaten and you have rested, you can continue on your journey. You are always welcome here. Do not be afraid to come to me. I am always waiting for you, no matter what the hour.”
With that, He stretches out His hand and pulls me to my feet. Putting His arm around me, supporting me, He guides me to the kitchen table, which is set with bread and wine for two. I suddenly realize how very hungry I am and how thirsty I have become. As He passes me pieces of bread and fills and refills my wine, I pour out my fears, my worries, my broken dreams, my failures and my sins. He listens intently and patiently. Finally, He asks me, “Child, what is your deepest desire?”
Without stopping to think, I reply, “To love and be loved. To be accepted as I am. To be seen and to be understood.”
Taking my hand in both of His, He smiles again saying,”My beloved daughter, this is why you come to me. Do you love me?”
“Yes Lord, I do. You know I do.”
“Who can understand you better than He who created you? You come to me whenever you are in need. No matter what you need or how much you need, I will give it to you if you ask. Do not be afraid to ask me for I will give you all that you need. Come when you are tired, when you are hungry, thirsty, in pain and lonely. I am always here for you. Do not let your fears keep you away from me. I will never reject you. I understand when you fail and I forgive all your sins. Do not be afraid. Knock anytime and I will be at the door, waiting to care for you. Your faith has brought you to me. Rest now and go forward in my peace. Be assured of my love for you.”
I close my eyes, resting my head on my arms and fall fast asleep.
I awoke the next morning in my bed after sleeping a full night’s sleep for one of the few times in several years without the help of alcohol or sleeping pills. I awoke refreshed and somehow lighter. All of the worries and fears are still with me, but they no longer have the same weight. All because I dared to knock.
Why did the man in the parable knock on the door in the middle of the night?
It was to borrow three loaves because a friend had come in from a journey and he had nothing to offer his friend. I have been filled and cared for so that I can return to my home and do the same for those who come to me in their hour of need. And when I am empty, I know the way to the house of my Lord. He will give me all that I need, including the courage to knock.