25 “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you’ll eat or what you’ll drink, or about your body, what you’ll wear. Isn’t life more than food and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds in the sky. They don’t sow seed or harvest grain or gather crops into barns. Yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are? 27 Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? 28 And why do you worry about clothes? Notice how the lilies in the field grow. They don’t wear themselves out with work, and they don’t spin cloth. 29 But I say to you that even Solomon in all of his splendor wasn’t dressed like one of these. 30 If God dresses grass in the field so beautifully, even though it’s alive today and tomorrow it’s thrown into the furnace, won’t God do much more for you, you people of weak faith? 31 Therefore, don’t worry and say, ‘What are we going to eat?’ or ‘What are we going to drink?’ or ‘What are we going to wear?’ 32 Gentiles long for all these things. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Using exaggeration to make a point (as in “That bag weighs a ton”), Jesus warned against worry, not against planning. So today’s passage may feel radical at first, against all common sense. That may have been even more true for Jesus' first hearers. “Jesus' audience would have been ordinary peasant people who had to worry about their next meal all the time, yet Jesus tells them not to worry about anything. He asks them instead to view the world with new eyes, in order to see all around them evidence of God’s care and provision.”*
Connect. Jesus calls us to live into today, rather than worry about the past or the future, as a way to remain grounded in what is happening here and now, make a conscious effort to connect with every person you see today. By doing so, you will be giving your full attention. Before every interaction you have today, pray this prayer:
God, may this interaction be full of love and grace, may I feel deeply connected to them and in turn, be more deeply connected to you.
Lord Jesus, you modeled a life of peace and trust. Help me to keep learning how to live a life in which my energy can focus on your purposes rather than my fears. Amen.
A good friend of mine during high school was involved in EVERYTHING. She was one of the smartest kids in our class, played sports, was seemingly part of every club on campus and the editor for the school yearbook. This girl was busy All. Of. The. Time. I remember her constantly burning the midnight oil, frazzled about classwork, and behind on deadlines, but she would always manage to pull things off in the end. She was a procrastinator. And I think she would say she “worked best under pressure.” Looking back on it now, I can see she was a chronic worrier.
I remember one particular phone call with her. She called me, procrastinating, complaining about everything she had to get done for a hard deadline with the yearbook publisher. As I sat and listened to all she had left to do, I kept wondering what in the world the rest of the yearbook committee did. And I realized she hadn’t been delegating things to them, because she hadn’t trusted them enough to delegate to them. There was probably a lot there to unpack, but it didn’t matter in the moment because she had a MOUNTAIN of tasks to get done. And she kept talking and talking and going around and around on a hamster wheel about it - tormenting herself with disturbing thoughts. WORRY!
[Here are few definitions of worry I looked up this week:
Finally, after commiserating with her for about 30 minutes, I told her I was hanging up and I’d be at her house in 10 minutes. No more complaining. Make a me a list. For the next few hours, we organized and trudged through all the things she needed to get done for the looming deadline.
You see, worry had my friend paralyzed and unable to move forward. She was getting herself in a pattern of imagining the worst-case scenario and trapped in the worry. Luckily, I was an outsider to the situation and my strengths assessment says my strengths lie in the area of Execution (I’m a“do-er”), so I was able to snap her out of going in circles and help her move forward. At least for that night.
There are times today, as an adult, I’d like to take the advice of my younger self. I find it easy to get stuck in a rut of worrying about things, such as: the myriad of details for an upcoming conference here at church, my daughter’s recovery from a concussion (and catching up on impending schoolwork), and how in the world we are going to pay for college. I find plenty of things to worry about on any given day.
The story of my yearbook editor friend is an illustration (and a personal reminder for me) of how worry can keep us from working with God to solve our problems together. I love how the GPS writer tells us today that Jesus warned against worry, not against planning. If we can give our worry about a situation to God, that frees us to act upon areas we CAN control and work through things in partnership with God. You’ve heard the phrase before, “Let go and let God”. Our brains won’t spin on a hamster wheel when we trust in God’s provision and care for us. With worry out of the way, we CAN do things like: block out time on our work schedule to knock out a to-do list, be an active advocate for a loved one’s health, or meet with a financial advisor about options for providing for our children’s education.
When worry gets the best of me, I often turn to today’s text in Matthew 6. Philippians 4:6 is also a scripture I’ve memorized and frequently pray through when I feel worried: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
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