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? Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? – Matthew 6:26-27
These thoughts from the Sermon on the Mount are some of the most popular and oft-quoted passages from the New Testament. I can just see Jesus, standing on the hillside overlooking Lake Galilee, gesturing to the birds in the trees. Sometimes I imagine a sparrow, or maybe a bluebird, or even a hummingbird, swooping in to light on his hand, or shoulder, getting a laugh from the crowd pressing in around him.
It’s a beautiful image. It’s a lovely thought, too, conjured by Jesus, that God cares intimately for all creation, and most especially us, the people God has gone to such great lengths to save.
When Life is Difficult:
But we’re not birds, are we – we’re people. And my parents, for example, aren’t able to fly from tree to tree. Instead, it takes just about more than they have to navigate some of the challenges life throws in their path from day to day.
Yesterday, for example, we decided to take dad’s new walker out for a spin in the park. It was a stunningly beautiful day, there was a gentle breeze to enjoy, and we found some shade to sit in.
It was a real treat to be outside. But then things became difficult for my dad and it took a titanic effort to get him back to the car and home again.
What I guess I’m saying is that I struggle sometimes to accept the level of difficulty life can present even to two children of God who have lived almost ninety years as the most generous, gracious, loving, kind, decent, good, compassionate people imaginable.
The point struck home to me symbolically this time because this was – after all – a walk in the park. But even a walk in the park is no walk in the park when your body – and sometimes your mind – betrays you. But I want so much for these sunset months and years for my parents to be a time they can enjoy without any stress or worry.
And this brings me full circle. Because Jesus is very clear in the Sermon on the Mount that the cure for stress and worry is not an easier life, but a more complete relationship with God. Just as Jesus looked at the disciples and said, “You feed them!” in yesterday’s post, today Jesus is looking at his followers, and saying, “You take care of them.”
The invitation is clear: “Your heavenly Father knows what you need. Instead, desire first and foremost God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:32-34)
Comforted, but still anxious; reassured, but not nearly out of the woods; struggling, yet believing too – DEREK