Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Do Not Worry

Reading through Matthew and noting the commands that Jesus gave is not an easy task when you are paying attention to what He is asking. In my last post I mentioned the one about giving. I'll follow up now with the 2nd command that jumped out at me in the first 9 chapters: Don't worry.

I used to think that anxiety/worry wasn't an issue for me. And it probably wasn't in some more obvious areas. But in smaller, more insidious ways, it was.

Sometimes still is.

Like the time I bite my kid's head off when they ask me something or even talk back to me, but my reaction is way out of proportion to what is actually going on. Usually a sign that I'm anxious.

Or when I tear through the house like a crazed woman looking for that piece of paper that is so incredibly important that I ignore the fact that dinner should've been served an hour ago. Another anxiety marker.

And what about when I start sorting through the piles of books I need to make decisions about and I start to feel overwhelmed and discouraged by the task...anxiety.

For me all of these things and countless others that I haven't even begun to list indicate an anxiety factor in my life that is rooted in the fear that God won't take care of me. Or that I have created too big a mess for Him to manage. That this one problem is beyond His capacity to be God in my life.

What a pack of lies that is!

I've found in preparing for this school year, particularly in regards to entering into that awesome responsibility of teaching my high schooler, that I am incredibly worried. Deep down it's a belief that says that God won't lead me...that He won't continue to be faithful like He's been these past 14 years that I've been a parent.

Argh. Why do I go there again?

Of course, He is faithful. He never changes. And He sure hasn't stopped speaking to me or guiding me. He has no shadow of turning. He's what He says He is. Faithful to the core.

So I'm back to following His commands tonight. I'm throwing all of those things I'm anxious about back at His feet. I'm trusting Him to lead and guide me, to be my children's teacher, to love them like only He can.

I'm believing God.

Matthew 6:25-34
25"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 important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26Look 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? 27Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life[b]?

28"And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If 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, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I love the way the Message paraphrases verse 34:
"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."

Philippians 4:6-7 :Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Cost of Nondiscipleship

I've joined another great web class put on by the incredible folks at Essentials Team. We're going through the book Devotional Classics which we used for a portion of the Essentials Green worship theology course. We all loved that aspect of the course so much, they added these Spiritual Formation calls with Dan Wilt which have been just amazing. By the way, the next essentials course kick off starts on September 11th. I can't recommend it enough.

This assignment's reading comes from a selction by Dallas Willard on the cost of nondiscipleship. He defines it this way:
Nondiscipleship costs abiding peace, a life penetrated throughout by love, faith that sees everything in the light of God's overriding govenance for good, hopefulness that stands firm in the most discouraging of circumstances, power to do what is right and withstand the forces of evil. In short, it costs exactly that abundance of life Jesus said he came to bring (John 10:10)

I have been contemplating this definition for several days, concluding that if I'm lacking any of those items in his definition, there's a pretty good chance it's because I'm not submitting to the disciple-making process in an area (or perhaps several) of my life.

At the end of the reading, the suggestion is made to read through the book of Matthew and list all the things Jesus commanded us to do, giving us a "mosaic of what the basic Christian life should look like according to Jesus."

I've only gotten through chapter 9 of Matthew, and already I am squirming. I notice that the commands I'm feeling most uncomfortable over all have to do with anxiety (subject for another post perhaps) and giving.

Giving, as in, if someone sues me for my tunic, give them my coat as well. Give to those who ask. Don't turn anyone away who asks to borrow.

You mean give? Just like that? I don't have to figure out if I have enough? Or if it's fair? Or if he/she is going to use it wisely or take good care of it or pay me back? Really?

That just doesn't seem *wise* somehow. But whose wisdom is that anyway?

Biblical scholars may have a way to explain a way around these blanket commands Jesus made, but I am struck with the simplistic nature of the one command.


My reluctance to give like Jesus commanded, though, is potentially costing me a lot: peace, abundant life, hopefulness, power...But deep down I'm afraid that giving like that will cost too much. That there won't be enough left over for me.

Which brings me back to a previous post on C.S. Lewis's writing on "Giving All to Christ." If I look at it from the standpoint of my natural self, when will I ever have enough to give?

The truth, though, is that when I give as a disciple of Christ, it can come from a place of abundant living in Christ, through being His disciple, obeying everything He's commanded (Matthew 28:20). Will it cost me? Most undoubtedly. Will it be easy? I hardly think so.

But will it be worth it? My head knows that the answer is a resounding "yes!" so that's the answer I'm going to give. My heart, though, is whispering a much more timid "I think so."

Lord, help me to give like you commanded! Help me to be Your disciple through and through. Let my head and heart come into unity with a confident "yes!" in Your promises and faithfulness.

Only 19 more chapters in Matthew to to join me?