We all know the passage in Matthew where Jesus tells his disciples to not worry about the needs of daily life, but do we own the passage for ourselves? Do we trust God to provide our needs? Do we earnestly seek Him and His kingdom before all else? Perhaps you believe Jesus said this to the disciples abstractly, or perhaps you believe Jesus meant this for the physical life. Maybe you believe God can do miracles today. Maybe you can give an example of someone you know for whom God clearly provided a miracle in the midst of disaster. However, do you truly know this applies to you, too, not abstractly but legit, hardcore, where the rubber meets the road, now?
Let's read this passage again to glean wisdom for our own lives.
"Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." (Matthew 6:25-34)
We can work our fingers to the bone, scramble and clamor for all the “good things” we think life ought to provide for us while missing out on so much more, so much better. While many blessings from God are not material, He does promise to take care of us. Even more, He promises us His presence. He promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
We've all faced our share of difficulties where we either claimed God's truth over our lives or lived in fret and fear by default.
One of my major difficulties is living with sickness that prevents me from cozying up in the comfort of a safe, stable income. Notice I didn't say abundant or luxury-affording income. As a public school English teacher, my income was none too steep, yet it provided financial security knowing I could pay my bills.
Even when I was a teacher, I felt God leading me to write. At the time, I didn't understand it all, and I still don't, but I started then writing in response to my bible study. God called me to write twelve years ago--two years before doctors told me that I had to leave my profession for my health.
A lot of my journey with the call to write has been recognizing that I am not as willing and compliant as I thought I was. I am easily driven by stubborn, selfish pride which I must vigilantly keep nipped in the bud. It springs up in so many ways, in so many invitations so sweet and alluring.
I won't lie and say that I easily resist sweet, tempting offers. Honestly, were I not too sick to work, I would take some of the offers without thinking twice. I have tried every way on my own to make ends meet since leaving my profession. It seems that I am so stubborn that God had to allow me to become too sick to accomplish any of my silly endeavors I wanted to use to honor Him.
That's right. I honestly do want to honor God. But I try to go about it my own way, not His. And this doesn't honor Him or please Him at all.
Though God will never leave us nor forsake us, He does not bless a mess we make when not trusting Him FULLY. Thankfully, He rescues us from that mess. Think of it like God on the top-end of a long rope, pulling us out of a pit we fell in while going our own way. He responds to our plea for His help. Often we go through a lot of misery before we realize the mess we've made. God rescues us, but we come out of the pit smelly and covered in the mud of our mess.
We know that God knows best, so why do we not listen, trust, and obey the One who created us and knows our every need. He knows us better than we can know ourselves. He loves us more than we can love ourselves. He knows our every need, and our biggest need is Him. Not stuff, but Him.
After a decade of running my own way and having been rescued from many, many pits, I aim to be more alert to the many changing invitations of pride, as they always come incognito. We more easily recognize pride when we stay close to God in His Word which equips us to make the best decisions.
Often we feel stuck between and rock and a hard place and hope God understands and supports our desperate decisions though we truly know better. When I came to the crossroads of scrambling to find a way to provide for my family or following God on an uncertain path, I chose the wrong way--my own. Though the path was extremely difficult, I found it comfortable because I felt a false sense of control. By nature we all want security, and we feel that if we have some measure of control, we can guide our own security.
We also want life to make sense. Knowing that God is at work all around us and that He works all things to our good if we love and seek to Honor Him, we convince ourselves and others to get involved with good things that make good use of our talents, education, and experience.
As a Christian wife, mom, daughter, Sunday school teacher, and volunteer in many worthwhile programs and projects, I recognized many opportunities to use my education and talents. I convinced myself these opportunities were what I should be doing because they were present and urgent. God never renounced His call for me to write, but I made many other good things priority.
Earlier in Matthew 6 we see Jesus warn against doing things for show. He then gives the model for prayer and continues to teach on the importance of right focus, attitude, and actions. These all work together. Though I had convinced myself I made the best use of my time, talents, and energy, I was to some degree doing it for show. Not that I wanted some grand recognition, but that I feared judgment of others. I was sincerely interested in all the excellent opportunities I pursued, but the problem was that I pursued them before I pursued what God clearly called me to do. I used my efforts on the urgent more than the important.
Nothing should have greater importance to us than our relationship with our Heavenly Father. And a big part of that relationship is what we do with it, how we respond to what He wants us to do. When we focus on Him, trusting and obeying Him, we should not worry about having our daily needs met. If we are obeying Him, those needs will be met. Focusing on the important rather than the urgent means everything that needs to be done actually gets done.
So now, in a period of being too sick to follow my pride, I am actually writing. And the feeling of knowing that I am obeying my Heavenly Father who has been so patient, forgiving, and gracious to me gives me peace and security far more powerful than the lure of emails and phone calls advertising opportunities and extending personal job offers that I know I am too sick to take.