So here’s how it goes:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 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? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 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. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6: 25-34, NIV)
There’s more to it, but you get the point. This is from an oratory of Jesus, often referred to as the Sermon on the Mount. It is also related in the Book of Luke.
One of the things I remember from Sunday School classes a thousand years ago during my childhood was that the teachers often reminded us: If it’s written more than once, it’s probably important.
As I was walking back to my office from a very lovely lunchtime spent with a colleague, the phrase “lillies of the field” came into my spirit. If you read the King James Version of the passage above, instead of “flowers of the field” you’ll find “lillies of the field.” As is so wonderfully illustrated here, we are being instructed to not concern ourselves with the everyday and ordinary bothers of life, and specifically clothing.
But I had just come from a time of sharing a meal. The conversation turned to food waste as we both looked at the mid-morning office snacks being carted away, and the outrageous cost of food at all our local groceries; I shared about some financial difficulties, and my concern over how I was going to make the pantry last until next payday.
On the walk back, I pass a parking lot where a couple of people sleep. I see their camp every time I go and come that way.
When I got back to the office, one of my suite mates asked about a food giveaway my husband and I participated in right before Christmas; “How’d the homeless food thing go?” she asked. I shared specifically about the moment of laughter from some of the people who came to get a meal. As we parted ways, I thought of the mid-morning snacks I’d procured in my lunch sack before they had been carted off; I had plans to save them for a few days ahead since I knew things would be lean while I was away from home. And again, the “lillies of the field” verses popped into my spirit.
God is a Master of the 10th inning, the 15th round. I know this. I’ve lived this. But when I feel like I am at the bottom of the 9th, like I am down but not out, He brings me just what I need.
Not always what I want, but what I need.
And yet, I take hours off my life by worrying. What is that about?!? I am working very hard to chase after His kingdom and righteousness, to remember that it is He who keeps me standing at the 10-second warning for the 15th round, that it is He who will keep me from falling, from dashing my foot on a stone. I am working hard not to get down on myself and my circumstances, because when I check out of Pity Hotel and look around, I’ve got it mighty good.
And if you are reading this, so do you, my friend, so do you.