One of our kids can struggle to get to sleep - when she climbs into bed at night it's as though a switch gets flicked on in her brain and all the things that she hasn't had time to really think about during the day come rushing to the forefront of her mind. Sometimes this is a gift - like me, she can get some of her most inspired ideas lying awake in her bed. But more often than not as the frustration of sleeplessness kicks in, her mind turns to worry. Events that have happened in the day get stuck on replay - each time becoming a little bigger, a little harder, a little scarier in her mind. And as a result, well tomorrow, tomorrow becomes unimaginable - full of impossibilities.
Jesus knew that we can all have this tendency to project beyond where we are into what is yet to come. And while some of us envisage tomorrow as dreamers and visionaries, for most we tend to amplify our challenges and look forward armed with our worst-case scenarios. And without intending to, as Corrie Ten Boom once said, we rob today of its strength. In Matthew 6 Jesus tells us:
What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know God... steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions... Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Now both this passage and its parallel in Luke's gospel are set in the context of Jesus addressing not just the love of money and things, but the spirit of striving to get, to accumulate and to be self-sufficient. When we believe that everything depends on us and on our finite resources and abilities, worry is the inevitable result. But our experience is meant to be different because we know God.
Three times in Matthew 6:25-34 Jesus commands us 'do not worry' - He is literally telling us to not be anxious or troubled with cares. And each of these commands is followed with a truth that will set us free from the burden of worry.
The first truth is this - we are valuable to our Father.
Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?
I love my kids so much - they are beyond precious to me and I go to great lengths to make sure they are cared for. It's no accident that in this passage Jesus constantly refers to God as your Father. There were so many names He could have chosen - He could have even said my Father - but He wanted us to remember that the relationship is a personal one, and that we're not just valuable as His creation - we're valuable because we're part of His family! Just like my kids know they can rely on me, we can relax knowing our Father loves us deeply and wants the best for us.
Then Jesus reminds us that our Father knows what we need.
So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them.
Luke's account of this conversation adds that the Father has been pleased to give us the Kingdom. It is the Father's pleasure to provide what we need, to make His Kingdom resources available to us. When I find myself filled with worry and anxiety I know that I have allowed myself to lose sight of the Father's heart.
I love how the amplified Bible often translates faith in God - it describes it as the leaning of your whole personality on Him in complete trust and confidence in His power, wisdom, and goodness. If life has taught me anything it is this - I can have absolute confidence in my Heavenly Father. I may not always have enough or feel adequate for the tasks before me, but He is always enough. His resources are not limited; His heart is never stingy towards me and in His perfect wisdom He knows just what I need and when I need it.
My recent maternity leave has been an adventure in trusting the Father - in the natural we did not have the resources for me to be off work for as long as I have been. But I have been set free from the burden of worry in this season as I have learnt the secret of what Jesus is teaching in this passage - pursue the Father first, look to the Father first, trust the Father first, because then you don't just get what you need, you get the treasures of His Kingdom too - you get righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit! (Rom 14:17).
And finally, in case we hadn't grasped the importance of this command, Jesus tells us one more time - do not worry, live in the present where I am.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
God is with us in the present and He will be with us in our tomorrow so we don't need to worry about it in advance. He will provide and give us the grace we need along the way as we need it.
So if you must hit the replay button late at night, let it get stuck on what God is doing right now -celebrate it, give thanks for it and rest in His goodness. As you do, He will become bigger and tomorrow will be filled with His possibilities.
Live today with purpose,
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
If you want to get blog posts direct to your inbox pop here.