This has been an anxious week for me. A lot of changes have happened with the move to New York City: new questions, new opportunities, new worries and doubts; a new ward, new faces, new roles (or lack thereof). And I’ve read too much news, as well; let too much of distant dramas and vast abstractions of great burdens affect me.
When anxiety becomes strong like this, I like to turn to Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, often in different translations to keep it fresh and lively. Today, I turned to this passage in The Message translation, and I was struck by this part:
Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? 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 both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
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.Matthew 6:27-34 (MSG), “A Life of God-worship”
I love this. The New Testament scholar Walter Breugemann, referring to this passage, described it this way: “Jesus invited his disciples out of the anxiety system.” The world I’m wrapped in fosters anxiety for so many things: position, reputation, status. And this week, I’ve forgotten to “steep my life in God-reality”: to remember that God will take care of me, and help me “deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.” I’ve forgotten what Christ said shortly after the Sermon on the Mount:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 (ESV)
That’s my prayer, as the Sabbath and sacrament draw near once again: to always remember Christ and these particular words; to keep the commandment not to worry, but to find peace in God’s provision; to find rest through my Redeemer and solace in my Shepherd.
The Lord is my shepherd;Psalm 23 (ESV)
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.