Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16 WEB)
I used to love flying kites. If I’m given the time, a good breeze, a paper kite, and plenty of string it still sounds great. I’d carefully tie some old rags to the tip of the kite with knots here and there to provide stability. A high flying kite with knots in its tail is a beautiful thing to see. There’s comfort and relaxation in tugging on the string to keep it aloft. I remember many days spending hours keeping a kite aloft on a stiff breeze. Behind the elementary school was a perfect field for the launch site.
Launching a kite takes a bit of experience, lots of running and just the right friend. Since I was often the pilot I would hold the spindle of string so it sat in my hand and the string spooled out between my fingers. My partner would hold the kite over their head. I’d walk about ten feet away, leaving a little slack in the string and then we would get set. On my signal we both ran the same direction until my friend tossed the kite in the air. I’d tug on the string to keep it taut and spool out the leader foot by foot as the kite rose in the sky.
On a good day we could let out over a hundred feet of string and keep the kite flying high the whole day. If the breeze was really good we’d take another spindle of string and tie it to the end of the first then watch our kite slowly rise into the stratosphere. At least it looked that high to us. This was our version of the space program.
At one time I’d tie a message in one of the knots on the kite’s tail. The message contained a dream or wish I wanted to see come true. I figured it might bring my desire just one step closer to God and heaven. Silly maybe but as a child it was fun.
As an adult visiting Central Asia, I was reminded of knots in the kite’s tail. I visited a monastery nestled at the end of a long canyon in the mountains. There, chiseled into the face of the cliff was a 12th century offering of praise and worship to God. There were some outlying buildings and a church but the most impressive were the chapels and homes dug into the solid rock.
The complex dated back to the 4th century. In the main chamber I experienced the beautiful acoustics. One voice would fill the room like a choir fills a church. The face of the cliff was decorated by many crosses carefully carved into the stones. According to legend, the spear which pierced Christ’s side was brought here.
Outside the church there were trees filled with handkerchiefs. I saw these in other places around the country. Here it was like a sea of colored hankies blanketing the local vegetation. I had to ask whether there was a cold epidemic or some other explanation for the strips of cloth fluttering in the breeze.
I was told they represented the dreams and prayers of the faithful who came to visit this and other churches around the nation. Like burning candles to make your special request known to the almighty, these strips of cloth were physical expressions of needs and desires. I found it rather spooky myself.
Then I remembered my childhood dreams flying in the wind on the tail of a kite. I didn’t understand how God heard my prayers. It wasn’t the piece of paper carefully tied in a knot but my heart reaching to the throne which resounded in the ears of God.
In the church today I see and hear people bargaining with God. They want to put a strip of cloth on some spiritual tree or fly some note in the tail of a mystical kite to feel they are heard in Heaven. It’s like a bargain. I’ll do this, or hang that hankie here, if God will do this or that. It seems we can’t fathom the love of God toward us. We think His love is conditioned by our actions.
The writer to the Hebrews reminds us we can come with boldness before God’s throne. No tricks, no candles, no bargains just open the door. It’s the offering of Jesus on the cross which paves the way into the heavenly throne room.
Are we bargaining with God today? Are we offering useless tokens when the entrance before the throne is already open? Jesus stands ready as our High Priest to intercede for us. We can lift up the needs of our hearts knowing God hears, knowing He will show us grace in our time of need. Let’s pray without conditions. Let’s trust God to answer because of His love for us.