I come from a long line of worriers. If you were to ask my worrying ancestors about the practice they would likely tell you that they had a lot of things over which to worry, and so with so much practice, they became experts. This hard won skill was then passed down through the generations to me. But I don’t think it’s just my ancestry. I think you come from a long line of worriers, too. Perhaps to varying degrees, but we all worry about something. It’s due to our human condition. We are not all-knowing, and we cannot see into the future. We cannot know what will happen even one second from now. The only moment we can count on for sure is this one. It is the not knowing that is our undoing.
Because Jesus became a man and walked among us, he had the unique opportunity to understand this issue of worry. He saw how it could consume us if we didn’t put it into the correct perspective. So Jesus addressed the problem of worry. He told us in Matthew 6:25, “Do not worry about your life”. Jesus asked us not to get bogged down in the details of our existence. Jesus wanted us to see that the birds that fly freely around us do not gather to commiserate on whether or not there will be enough food to feed all of them. They truly live in the moment. It’s all they have.
My little Aunt Jean lives in a nursing home. Dad and I work together to make sure that she is well cared for. Dementia has taken over her mind, and has robbed her of her ability to worry. It has stolen other things too, like memories and independence, but one blessing of dementia is that it has taken her ability to worry. Jean does not worry about anything. The only moment that exists for her is the one she is in currently. It has offered her a unique freedom. She has no anxiety, no stress. She is happy to see me, but does not worry about what might happen to me when I leave.
Andy Stanley, pastor of NorthPoint Community Church, teaches that we worry about the things to which we are most devoted. As he puts it, he does not worry about whether or not I have a job. He’s not devoted to me. When I look to the things I spend time worrying about, it’s usually all wrapped up in my family and the things that impact them. Are they well? Safe? Are their futures secure? As if my worry is some sort of insurance policy against calamity. If I just worry enough about those things, then they will all be fine, and I will no longer have anything to worry about.
Jesus pointed attention to the wild birds because his point was this. They don’t worry, and yet the Lord meets their needs. And then He asks the question. “Aren’t you much more valuable to the Father than they are?” If the Lord meets their needs, how much more and consistently will He meet ours?
Jesus understood why we worry. We lack information. We want information. And in the absence of information, we make some up and it’s usually not good. And this imaginary information becomes our focus. We can dream up a lot of catastrophic circumstances, can’t we? We can play them out to their bitter end and fret our days away.
What would happen if we shifted our devotion? I’m not saying we don’t do the things we need to do to be responsible and take care of “our part”. I cannot expect that my children will just know how to live lives devoted to Jesus if I don’t teach them how and model that for them. But then I’ve done my part. My part does not, then, include worrying about whether or not God will do His part.
What would happen if I am most devoted to Christ, developing my relationship with God the Father, and being filled with the Spirit? What if I choose to put my worries there? What if I seek God first? And then trust Him with the rest? Well, Jesus said then all these other things? These things I used to worry about? Those will be added to me.
Are we really so devoted to our worries that we aren’t willing to take Jesus at His word? We trust Him with our eternity, but not with our now?
Doesn’t His way seem to make life a good bit easier? I mean we can choose to worry and fret if we want to, but to what end? We aren’t replacing worry with ambivalence, we are replacing worry with trust in a trustworthy Father.