Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Do Not Worry About Tomorrow – SOTM #18

What hiker, setting out to walk the Appalachian Trail, would fill his or her pack with the supplies needed for the entire trip. None, of course. A reasonable person would take what he or she needed to get to the next supply stop on the trail and no more. Anything beyond the necessities would, at best slow progress and, at worst, result in failure to complete the course.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus concluded his admonition to his listeners concerning worry about the necessities of life by saying:

Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

It is hard not to imagine a smile on Jesus’ face as he said those things. He is playing, wonderfully, with words. He tells his listeners that they do not need to worry because the day itself will worry for them. Of course days don’t worry; they only provide the context in which humans worry. Then he goes further and suggests that it is possible to reach ahead into a coming day and transfer its worries to the present one. How foolish, when we can’t know how many of the concerns of the present day are worthy of worry, to assume that we can select future concerns that need our attention now.

Jesus had been preaching about the evils of what we might call materialism. But more than that, a materialism mixed with faithlessness. At one point he stops to exclaim, “Oh you of little faith.” It is important to pay attention when Jesus uses that phrase. Some have assumed that faith has degrees ranging from a little bit to a great deal. Although Jesus speaks of “little faith” and “great faith” it becomes obvious that “little faith” is inadequate to accomplish anything. Only “great faith” moves mountains. And only “great faith” believes God to supply one’s needs each day. “Little faith” says, if I can build great barns and fill them I’ll be able to rest easy for the rest of my days. “Great faith” says, “Give us, this day, our daily bread.”

Jesus does not suggest that the lilies of the field, or the sparrows, are provided for because of their faith. He cites them as examples of God’s care for the least of his creatures. Observing such care, we should have no doubt that he will care for us.

The pagans – who, by the way, live in the kingdom of this world – concern themselves with the amassing of food and drink, and clothing because they do not know what the children of the kingdom of God know. Children of the kingdom of God know that He has all their needs covered; that he even has the hairs on their head numbered. They are free to “seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness” knowing that all those things the pagans run after, will be given to them.

So, fellow hikers, as you fill your backpacks for the next day’s journey, pack just enough to get to the next way-station. There will be a new supply waiting there. And if there are unexpected needs along the way, trust that the one who planned the excursion can provide all that is needed to get you to your destination safe and sound.

There is a special bonus for those who pack lightly and trust greatly. They have more energy to expend exploring the wonders of the trail, seeking first the good things, knowing there will be enough of the necessities to keep them going.

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