In writing earlier this week on the outflow of a heart for God, I kept finding my attempts at praise interrupted by my worries and hindrances. On April 8 I posted about Matthew 6, but I didn’t blog on the whole chapter -mostly on the part devoted to the Lord’s Prayer. I realized I needed to look at the rest of the chapter, to “correct my outflow” so to speak – so that what was coming out of my heart would really be something that pleased the Lord, and allowed peace into my life. 

Matthew 6:19-34 is a passage I know well, and yet still I forget. It contains verses I’ve committed to memory since childhood: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (6:21); “No one can serve two masters… you cannot serve God and money” (6:24); “Do not be anxious about your life [for just as God cares for the birds he will care for you]… which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? …O you of little faith!” (6:25-30); “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (6:33-34).

That last verse is especially one I need to remind myself of right now. “Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” In other words – you WILL GO CRAZY if you worry too much about the future. Planning is one thing. I am big fan of planning, and knowing where you want to go, and making preparations and little steps to get there. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll either not move, or you’ll get somewhere and wish you were better prepared, or had done things differently along the way, or you just won’t like where you are. Planning is good. Having a sense of God’s calling on your life and his plans for you is far better. But worrying now because I am not there yet, and am not sure how I will get there – that is not helpful, healthy, or even fun. Worry is miserable. If I am doing something miserable because I know it is temporary or will produce a good result, I am okay with miserable. But miserable because I am focusing on things I cannot control instead of on the God who holds the whole world in his hands? That is not okay. It is not fun. It does not produce any good results in my life or in my situations, and generally makes me unpleasant to be around. If I am too focused on tomorrow’s problems, I will miss what is happening today, and today will suffer as a result.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:11, that we should ask for our DAILY bread, not our yearly or lifelong bread. I guess the thing for me is, I am learning to go day by day, to seek direction each day, to trust his provision each day, like the Israelites ate manna each day. If they gathered more than they needed, the manna rotted overnight. If they gathered enough for each day, and extra for the sabbath, everything was perfect (Exodus 16). He gave just enough, so they would learn to trust, be able to rest, and to not worry for the future. For the first time in our marriage, we are having to REALLY trust God for our future, without a sort of sense of his long-term plan, a definite idea of where he is leading, how he will continue to provide, or even if our dreams align with his plans. I like it better when I have a multi-year plan. As the Israelites feasting on manna in the wilderness, I need to trust day by day, and learn to follow the cloud and the pillar of fire, wherever and for however long it settles. I am trusting in a plan that God has, that I can’t work out on my own. I have what I need to today. My worry is over the future. Why can’t I let that go? I don’t know. I guess that is why we are to come to prayer daily, in trust, thanksgiving, repentance, and surrender. I really don’t think it is possible for humans to be truly healthy if we are not in daily connection with our lifesource. Jesus said, “I am the bread of life, I am the light to guide you, I am your protection, I am the vine that will nourish you and keep you healthy” (John 6:35, 8:12, 10:11, 15:1). I need that connection daily.

As Paul, in the Philippians 4 reading, I need to learn to be content. I’ve already learned how to be content with plenty, now I get to learn to be content with not as much. Maybe someday, I’ll get to learn contentment with extravagance! (Ha ha!) And I pray I don’t have to learn to be content with almost nothing, as so many people live each day. Realizing that is enough to drive me back to effusive thankfulness, and contrition at feeling my own “lack” is really not lacking much at all.

In the meantime, my call is to be faithful, to praise him, and thank him. This is how we can live without worry.

NOTE: I wrote most of this post a few days ago, but didn’t get a chance to finish it up or post until now. Since then, several things have happened to renew my hope and confirm that God truly is taking care of me and my family. Finally, I feel like I came to a bit of a breaking point, and just as promised, God came through. One thing happened to give us a little extra income, and another thing happened to give us a little extra hope. There are still many unanswered questions, but I think I am learning to trust day by day, and to let tomorrow’s troubles stay in tomorrow. I wish I could be happy-go-lucky and not worry, and not be ambitious; I don’t know if that will ever be me. But simply put, it is sin to focus on the future and what I hope to have or do, instead of focusing on today and being thankful for what I have now and can do now. God, forgive my heart, and help me daily come to you, a thousand times a day, just as I take a thousand breaths.

Advertisements