God’s Promises: Worry or Wait?

**A weekly look at the promises of God**

Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important 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?” ~ Matthew 6:25-26

I am terrible at this. Absolutely awful. I cannot tell you exactly when it started for me, but I am sure it became magnified when I began earning money. Money was the ticket. When I was no more than seven years old I began to bother my mother for baseball cards when we went to the pharmacy. I distinctly remember the price of a pack rising from 35 cents to 50 cents, but it had already been established that it would be worth it.
When I began gainful employment in high school, my money went toward purchasing the clothes that I wanted to wear. The money also went toward the purchase of food that I wanted to buy when our athletic team traveled to games. When a car became mine to use, money allowed me to go where I wanted to go. I cannot recall using money to meet any needs, merely my wants. That practice, in hindsight, began to grow into a sneaky lie: I was providing.
By my third year in college I was living off-campus and seeking employment that would allow me to contribute to rent, food, utilities, gas, and – of course – my wants. After all, you cannot date someone and spend all of your money on needs, right? The lie, as they say, snowballed after college. At that point I was preparing for marriage, a new place to live, and many other…needs?
After a while the dividing line, if there ever was one between my wants and needs, became hazy to the point of no recognition. Wants are needs and needs are needs. It became very easy for me to store up, much like the Israelites in the desert. “Just in case,” I believed, I should set something aside. But, more importantly, I should accumulate more stuff. That was what money gave me the freedom – no – the right to do.
The text above does not give a direct promise, but there is an implied promise of God within the command not to worry: God’s got this.
A few verses later Jesus comes closer to spelling out the promise when he questions our flawed thinking, asking the rhetorical question of whether or not God will “much more clothe” us. Well, of course God will do that. In the account of Creation, God clearly delineates the importance of Adam and Eve. They were made in God’s image as are we. We are given everything that God has made and yet, like our first parents, we think it is not enough. Not only was the first sin an act of direct disobedience, but it was an act of asserting independence: “Thanks, God, but I got this.”
How often do we do that now? How about “daily” as an answer? And that would not be often enough to describe all of us. We misinterpret a command to exercise dominion by changing the word to “domination.” “Accumulation” would also fit the bill. But that is not the goal, it never was. There is a point made by Jesus – familiar to us – at the end of the above passage:
“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
That is your focus. That is your priority. That is your call. Seek – actively look for and pursue – his kingdom. God’s kingdom. What Jesus is pointing out to us is the very simple truth that we cannot see God’s kingdom when we are so busy building ours. Simple. If I stack up bricks all around me, how can I see anything else?
You, like me, don’t need all that you have. You probably don’t even want all that you have. So why is it there?
Let us throw off everything that hinders and…run…the race marked out before us.” (Hebrews 12:1) We don’t run well when we look behind us. We don’t run well when we glance off to the side. We don’t run well when we stop to pick up more stuff. No, we run well when we look straight ahead and trust that the One who began with us will also give us all that we need to finish.
Earlier this year I flopped down on my bed, resigned to have a conversation with God. I began in prayer almost flippantly, “Ok, God, what do you want to tell me?”
I love you.
“That’s it?!”
Isn’t that enough?
End of conversation.
God is always enough.
That is his promise.

20131030-221335.jpg

Advertisements

God’s Promises: Good or God?

I will publish this because it is true and necessary, but I will also publish this to serve as a reminder when I forget:
Stop looking for the good things; start looking for the God things.
That is a mantra that is far easier to type than to experience. It is a statement that can easily come off as trite Christian advice – a flip philosophy – but it remains oh so true. We recall the story of Joseph as the penultimate example of not knowing what is for our good during the refinement process. The entire book of Job is another example given to us for our times of suffering. In fact, story after story in the Bible points us to the reality that we truly do not know what is for our good.
Consider the story of Noah. Did he believe that his years of labor on an impossible and unheard-of task was for his good? Did Jacob see any good in his years of grieving a son that he believed was dead? Did Naomi see any good in losing her husband and sons? What about Jonah when he was tossed overboard? The truth is that we are very poor discerners when it comes to defining what is for our good.
Thanks be to God that what is for our good is beyond our control. Would we choose suffering? Would we choose difficult times? Would we choose to lose what is close to us or the people we hold dear? Of course not! We do not like pain, difficulty, grief, nor loss. It is uncomfortable, it hurts, and we fight against that.
Almost any vice we may find in our life is an attempt to avoid pain. Legal drugs, illegal drugs, prescription drugs, perfectionism, pornography, electronic media, overworking, food addictions and exercise can all soothe or numb us from pain. Yet somehow, in the middle of our not-so-good, God intervenes and can create something for our good.
I recently went through a difficult season in my life. In many ways I could describe it as an emotional, spiritual, and mental “winter.” I was cold, I was numb, and nothing would grow. I couldn’t write. I could function, but only in short bursts. It was the equivalent of getting all bundled up for a snowball fight, running around with the appearance of joy, and quickly retreating to the comforts of hot chocolate.
There was one day when I awoke with a sense of optimism. But after a phone call didn’t happen as I had hoped, and a piece of mail I didn’t want arrived anyway, I was ready to pout. My temper tantrum landed me flat on my back in my bed, ready to argue with God. I had barely opened my mouth in an are-you-listening? prayer before I heard God clearly ask, “Am I not still good?”
The question stopped me and my hopes to have a cleansing rant. Either I believed that God IS good, or I didn’t. If I believe that God is good, that His goodness is an unchanging attribute, then what was the problem? What had changed? Only my circumstances. And now, as I begin an emotional, spiritual, and mental season of Spring, I can honestly say that the difficult times were for my good. I pressed in closer to God. I sensed God with me more than I had before. And I now have yet another example of God’s faithfulness to me in difficult times.
God IS good.
That doesn’t change.
Whatever season you find yourself in as you read this, remember: we are terrible judges of what will be for our good. God is not.
“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid.'” ~ Hebrews 13: 5b-6a, NIV
Amen and Amen.