Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Words of Grace For Today
After, in the prophetic image of Hosea given to him by God, … after God ‘plays the lover of an adulteress.’ For Israel has wandered yet again from God’s love to the adulteress love of other ‘gods’ and other values and other everything. Israel is trying to play being godlets, or at least as if they could choose their ‘god’. So Hosea, as God commands him, takes a harlot as his ‘wife’, to demonstrate to the people how they have taken ‘gods’ and loves that are not God, that are not Love!
Thankfully God does not abandon Israel, nor us (for such wandering is commonly repeated even in these days). God has an afterwards for us. Afterwards is always a time of return to God, seeking God, and being in awe of God, so that we once again know God’s goodness in and among us!
This is the time that God’s gifts of the Spirit enable us to choose, to will and to work for God’s good pleasure … that all people have life, and life abundant!
Which time is this day for you?
Playing with other ‘loves’ and trying to hide from the love of God?
Seeking, walking with God (since God walks with you already), standing in awe of God’s work in and among us, and enjoying God’s goodness for all people?
The deep-freeze will arrive this day, staying minus 20⁰C ish day and night, going to minus 27⁰C at least one night, maybe even minus 30⁰C. A touch of cleansing cold.
Will our hearts become or stay so cold?
Or will we choose to will and work for God’s good pleasure?
As for me and my household (oops, no household, just me) we/I will choose to …
hope that the Spirit will overcome sin in us/me and bring God’s will to be among us, also.
There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.
1 John 4:14
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
Words of Grace For Today
As the second wave of Covid 19 continues to explode around us with infections, hospitalizations and deaths that overwhelm us …
And finally restrictions are in place that might ‘bend the skyrocketing’ numbers …
Christmas will not be like many before.
There is none like God … the prayer of faith saves the sick, sins are forgiven …
So we trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven by forgiving others
we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all. For example:
On The Dose, a CBC radio program, available in numerous ways including on demand, this past week host Dr. Brian Goldman interviewed psychology professor Steve Joordens who gave advice and guides on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy through the holidays and beyond. The advice is badly needed by many as resilience to the effects of isolation is plummeting in a free fall as fast as the Covid 19 numbers are skyrocketing.
I had to step away for part of it, such are the demands of my living situation as I balance delicately hour by hour between destruction by ice or by fire, but these are the notes from my daily journal, expanded to make sense to any reader:
1. Plan for next year’s Christmas.
This year do what is necessary to make the holidays (and every day) safe, very safe, as safe as can be, for yourself, for your loved ones, and for all those you all encounter! Many things will not be possible. Be creative this year. Plan next year to do the things you cannot do this year.
This is not like war. We know an end is in sight and recovery to a somewhat familiar normal will come, so we can plan for it. We can make our new normal even better by planning for what is precious!
2. Make intentional social interactions.
We all need to interact with others. Don’t do what is not safe, very safe. Error on the side of safety, for now. That does not mean we cannot have many social interactions. Make your virtual connections real. Listen, share, laugh, cry, ‘be there’ for the intense moments and for the mundane. Reach out to people who may not have someone. Develop ‘pen pals’ or rather phone-pals or zoom-pals.
We are in the same storm, but in different boats. So respect that we all have to cope, each in our own ways. The basics are the same: we need to stay afloat amidst the chaos.
3. Counter Anxiety with Enjoyment.
Cortisol flows when we are anxious and moves us into fight/flight/flee mode in which we do not reason, we just act to save ourselves; or so the instinct works or rather does not work well when fight/flight/flee responses can do nothing to save us, let alone help us.
Endorphins counter the effect of cortisol, so do things and help others do things that bring enjoyment. Climb El Capitan, well … maybe just get a good dose of exercise as you are able. Music moves us to remember good times, brings us to laugh, and dance. Give the gift of music to yourself, and to others. Give music to bring back memories of times before Covid 19.
3. Be a model for children.
Children experience the world through us parents and adults. Do your own work to build up resilience so that you are not anxious around children. They will learn with you to be resilient in the face of extreme challenges. They will learn how to set anxiety aside.
Be a model for other people, too. Adults learn from other adults. We never quite stop learning from others if we stay healthy!
The real dark side that is becoming more and more apparent while everyone is under the stress of Covid 19 restrictions and infections and long term illness and deaths is … is depression, which unchecked is leading to suicides.
Be aware of this and notice your anxiety before it overwhelms you. Be resilient for others. Reach out to others. If you or someone else is at risk of harming themselves, there is help. Reach out. The resources are on the web in many places including www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx , scroll down to GET HELP.
4. Learn to relax at will.
You cannot be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Get online guides to practice how to relax. Practice until you can relax without the guides.
Then notice when you are starting to become anxious, and relax instead.
Use this to prepare for sleep as well.
5. Embrace winter.
Get out. It’s safer outside as far as Covid 19 goes. Be safe in the cold, dress for it. Get vitamin D by taking a walk on a sunny afternoon.
6. Bring wood from the first dry stack. (Oops, sorry that’s just the reminder for me to get wood to stay alive through last night’s -26⁰ C dip into hard freeze.)
Everyone has things that need be done to get through the winter and each month, besides dealing with Covid 19. Ensure you and others are doing those things, too. Work (not to an extreme) helps maintain resilience.
We trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven as we forgive others their sins, and we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all.
Be safe, be wise, do not be anxious or let your hearts be troubled: instead find ways to enjoy life and share it with others, and relax into the comfort of God’s arms. God walks with us each day, each hour. God carries us when we falter.
Christ calls us to be God’s arms for one another; carry one another with respect and love.
[Thanks to The Dose, though I paraphrased considerably and creatively.]
Light one, two, (three), (four) candles to watch for the Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….
[Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah, words by Wayne L. Wold]
Surely everyone goes about like a shadow. Surely they are in turmoil for nothing; they heap up, and do not know who will gather.
2 Timothy 1:10
This grace [which saves us and gives us a holy calling] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Words of Grace For Today
The world’s way of living is to try to make something from nothing, to have more for oneself. It is a turmoil like no other, yet no one can know who will get to gather in the rewards for all our striving to make something for nothing. Few of us reap the rewards of our efforts. Some reap the rewards of many others, and claim it is their right. It is not. Most of us give up great effort and see no reward at all.
Only those who labour for Christ are rewarded for their efforts, not with the heaps gathered in by others or by themselves. Rather we who labour for Christ receive first the reward for Jesus’ sacrifice, and then we live dedicated to following Christ’s will for us and others.
This is a holy calling. We no longer lives as a shadow, as part human, part darkness, outlined only by a brighter light. We live as the beings God created us to be, full, embodied, clearly seen in the light, solid even in the darkness of any kind, especially that of evil.
When one toils in order to have enough to provide the basics of life to oneself and one’s family, one can see no end of toil. For there is never enough for oneself and one’s own. When one toils in order to have the basics of life for oneself and one’s own … and for all those around in need, then there is always enough … enough for life that is worth living.
Yesterday I stopped at Walmart to pick up the four grocery items I need to deal with GERDS, for which I hope I have enough money since the gift card I was given had less than a dollar on it.
Done the first isle following the assigned directions to maintain physical distancing, I came face to face with two grocery carts. I stopped and waited for the people behind the carts to place in the rather full carts what they were looking for on the shelves. Then the proceeded to come further down the isle the wrong way towards me. I asked them to turn around, that they were going the wrong way. The first of the two carts instead turned to the side of the isle to try to force his way past me. I turned my cart to the side two inches to close the gap and he rammed my cart. I asked again.
With cursing the two cart drivers turned around, and a third man with them, starting verbally abusing me, threatening me to find me in the parking lot. As I continued with my shopping he continued to yell abuse at me from the next isle, from 20 and 50 feet away. I looked for staff. There were none to be found.
I headed for the checkouts, and while I was trying to deal with the 0 value gift card, the verbal abuse and threats started up again as the group joined the que to the checkouts. I yelled for security, afraid for my life, that this guy might actually follow me out into the parking lot!
Security came, or was it the manager. He was questioned. My credit card transaction was held up as they pulled my id. Finally I was allowed to exit the entrance doors to distance me from this guy.
If I could toil for this guy and the guy in a vehicle going 110kph passed me on my bicycle on the right, on the shoulder of highway 55, … If I could toil for these guys to not be idiots, not put my life at risk with their frustration that things are not going their way, how would that look?
I’m at a loss what to do for idiots, and many more others of so many kinds, who breach the social contract we have, which holds the barbaric nature of humanity at bay with such a thin veneer of civility. That thin veneer suffers attacks everyday, and its amazing that it still holds. If we are not careful, if we are not all careful, it will dissolve all too soon.
Then toiling for the basics of life will be an impossibility for us all, idiots, liars, deceivers, even for former holders of great authority, and also for us saints with a holy calling.
Pray that the Light of Christ will shine soon into the darkness that has descended on these lands and on these people,s here and across the globe, so notable as it is just south of the border.
The Light will expose the evil done, burning it up like chaff, as it finally abolishes death and brings life and immortality to light through the gospel.
Soon and Very Soon, we pray; Come and Deliver us, all. We are ALL in this together.
I will never again hide my face from them, when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7
Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
Words of Grace For Today
During Covid 19, like many times before though for some much more intensely, we need to be careful for each other.
The kind of care is not to avoid some great big monster of a villain, who invades our lives and leaves tracks and vivid images of the him/herself in our memories.
This villain is a teeny, tiny virus that can get us mildly sick and contagious, or very ill so that we feel we are dying, to killing us … and what many seem to forget is even if one survives, this little virus can leave it’s surviving victims’ health compromised for the rest of their lives. The compromise can be as little as an irritation to deal with, to major health issues that alter how one can live through a normal day.
We cannot know, if we are in an proximity of other people (and very few of us live anywhere NOT in close proximity to others through a normal week), if we or someone else is infected and contagious, or what air space is filled with contaminated microdroplets containing the virus, or what surface has the virus waiting for contact to infect us. And we cannot know for sure when we are leaving the virus behind for others to be infected from us.
Stupid is the infected President who waves to people from the balcony, takes of his mask, and turns to be in close proximity to a number of his staff … and they test positive a few days later!
Stupid is a lot of what people do nowadays!
Stupid and deadly for some people, debilitating for others, inconvenient for others.
God promises not to hide his face from us, again.
So God endures these stupidities with us.
God has given us all many gifts of great varieties, and to all of us God has given the Holy Spirit for the common good. Each and every one of us has received the gifts to not have to be stupid about Covid 19.
We may be sick and tired of the limits and restrictions. Still we can and must comply with health restrictions and recommendations to keep each other safe.
It’s better to be sick and tired of the limits, than to be sick and tired, out of breath, and incapable of living fully for the rest of our lives, simply because we or someone that came close to us, decided to be stupid about being sick and tired.
God, save us from stupid! Especially from those who have authority and means to provide for our safety (individually and collectively) … and they do not.
The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust for ever.
For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Words of Grace For Today
Of what is life?
Food and drink?
Peace, quietness and trust, righteousness and joy?
The basic requirements for minimum and full human life are:
clean air to breath
clean water to drink
nourishing food to eat
adequate clothing to wear
adequate shelter to protect one from the elements
meaningful labour so that one contributes and receives sufficient reward for one’s labour
love: most significantly that one is loved unconditionally, and that one can love others unconditionally.
Food and Drink are requirements, as we all know. One can last 3 or so days without water, and up to a few weeks without food. Not well, and not many times over. One should have water and food multiple times each day to stay healthy.
Yet we can too easily get our priorities all wrong.
We can loose balance, perspective, focus, and gratitude. There are many ways to say this, and it happens to us in as many ways. When we live with food and drink as the focus of our lives, to the detriment of labour and love, then we live off balance, out of kilter, or, as it’s said in so many ways, ‘messed up.’
It is exceedingly difficult to achieve peace, quietness and trust, righteousness or joy. Truthfully one cannot achieve them at all. We receive them as gifts from God.
It is hard to imagine that we would over focus, live out of kilter, living for peace, quietness and trust, righteousness and/or joy. Yet this also is possible. We humans have great ingenuity when it comes to ‘messing up’ life.
These gifts from God are not for us to achieve. Rather they are for us to share, and in sharing God fills us to overflowing with them.
While Covid-19 restrictions, and even the lifting of restrictions and a return to more ‘normal’ can tax us, at times beyond our limits, the stress of these times do not change who we are. The stress just makes very clear to ourselves and to others what kind of people we really are.
We are children of God and wretched sinners, simultaneously. We need to be loved, unconditionally. And to love unconditionally. Yet we ‘mess it all up’ terribly.
Thank God, we are forgiven, and given re-newed life each day, each hour, as the Holy Spirit works in and through us, despite our wretchedness.
It is beginning to feel much like fall as I write this. Cool air blows, tree tops sway, leaves rustle and fly, rain spits and drips. Everything inside is set to retain warmth and let in what light there is. In this day whatever it is like where you are may God’s blessings be obvious and not forgotten by our living off balance.
May we be caught tipped by the weight of blessing raining down on us, refreshing us, giving us the most precious things to experience and share.
shining on us day and night by sun, moon, and Holy Spirit
2 Chronicles 32:24-25
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not respond according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem.
Then one of the lepers, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The leper was a Samaritan.
Words of Grace For Today
False pride and arrogance or humility and gratitude, two apparently mutually exclusive manners of responding to all God has done for us.
In 2 Chronicles the writer interprets the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem as God’s response to Hezekiah’s proud and hard heart. In Luke the writer interprets Jesus’ healing the lepers as done in response simply to the lepers asking.
That one returns to thank Jesus, against Jesus’ directions that they fulfill the Jewish Law and show themselves to the priests (to be recorded as cured and therefore free to return to their families and position in Jewish society.) The one who returns gains nothing by visiting the priests. He is an outsider and gains no ‘return’. Leper or not, he is not accepted into Jewish society. He returns then to Jesus, acknowledging that Jesus has more authority than any priests.
Luke’s message is that those who are burdened with their own religious authorities and practices may well fulfill their obligations to them, Jesus still comes and heals those people. People with no locally recognized religious authorities and practices to fulfill (the Samaritan perhaps had some, just not recognized by the Jews), are free to recognize Jesus’ greater authority and to respond with appropriate gratitude.
Who are we?
We wish we were like the Samaritan, free to recognize Jesus’ authority and power with thanks and gratitude.
If we are honest, we are like the other 9 Jewish lepers, bound to duty to other authorities, and easily able to miss the wonders Jesus provides and therefore easily able to miss out on thanking Jesus and living with wondrous gratitude. That gratitude is a more powerful force in life than ‘falling in love’, about which much is written, spoken and known – how it transforms life for the better (or worse.) Gratitude transforms life always for the better, and it does not wear off after a short few months.
If we are honest, we are also often like Hezekiah, proud and hard hearted, completely capable of pleading to God for help when life catches us in disaster or deadly illness or total loss. But when it comes to giving God thanks for all God has given us, our breath and very lives … Well then we are back to fulfilling our ‘obligations’ to other authorities and demands (like careers, money, status, reputation among those driven by greed and avarice, and false images of ourselves as above or without God).
Luther described all of these as happening simultaneously in our lives as responses to the same events. To which he prayed as we well can: God save us!
And save us, Luther knew as we can know, Jesus already has.
We can choose to live lives transformed by thanks and gratitude. Bit by bit each day.
Where else are we going to turn for the living water? the bread of life? the Words of eternal life? the hope that does not disappoint? the promises that fill us so that we have more than enough to share with all who need life?
There is no photo of justice observed and righteousness done at all times.
It cannot exist, except by GRACE
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
1 John 2:17
The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
Words of Grace For Today
The way the world teaches it’s children to live is not to observe justice and do righteousness – just do not get caught.
The desires that fuel that kind of thinking are endless, in number and because of our inability to satisfy them. Our living experience of them is that they continue, as sure as the rock under our feet as we stand on a high crested mountain west of Edmonton.
Yet from God’s perspective that rocky mountain is a fleeting feature of earth, along with us living on it, and the entire planet as it spins around the star we call our sun will soon pass into oblivion.
The question for us all is how do we live in this fleeting moment, that lasts generation upon generation for us.
Observing Justice and doing righteousness at all times.
First that is impossible, a dream for some, and for all of us mostly wishful thinking.
We are saved by Grace alone. None of us are able to do other than sin, and we wretched sinners can only hope that Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection will save us, for there is no other hope for us.
So as long as we live, if we can always observe justice and do righteousness at all times, then we will be happy.
Since we cannot do that, is it true that we will never be happy?
I’d hope not, but …
… now is the moment when one needs to have prayed and trusted God, and paid a little attention in Confirmation Class.
We can be happy, because even though we cannot observe justice nor be righteous all the time, Jesus steps in for us, sets his record in place of our own.
Not on our own, but transformed by the Grace of God into saints, we can be happy, not just merely happy, but the happiest that we can ever be.
Able to observe justice and do righteousness always, only because Jesus steps in for us, the guarantee that we will be counted to have done exactly that cannot be more sure.
Happy hardly begins to describe how grateful we can be, relieved that we need not count on our own abilities, and exhilarated that life for us is wonderfully blessed by God.
Happy are we who have God doing justice, and observing righteousness, for us, for our record.
No matter our sins, as we trust God, we can join the many people who for so long have learned even amidst great grief to Sing Hallelujah Anyhow.
How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;
Words of Grace For Today
What shakes in your life?
When the wind blows and catches the solar panels on the roof this whole place rocks. The first time the 50 km winds did that, with 90 km winds in the forecast, I climbed out into the blowing snow and ice cold biting wind. I looked at what was shaking me in my boots.
It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. Solid anyway I thought. Then I retraced the steps I had taken to face the solar panels into the winter sun that barely peeked above the treetops for a few minutes. I remembered how I had anchored everything solidly … and I remembered how the cold and the onset of dark had rushed me. While the front side was anchored solidly to the frame that held all the solar panels to the rooftop, and that was only probably solid enough to stand up to a 100 km wind, I had just left the back side resting on that frame of piping.
So was! The panels all together stood nearly vertically six feet above the roof and five feet wide. That’s a lot of sail force on that frame holding the panels.
It had inherent limits being on the roof anchored to the piping that held everything in place, AND the back side (in the direction the most powerful winds could hit – since there were trees disrupting the wind in the other direction) was just sitting there!
I was lucky it had not just up’ed and walked off the roof top smashing, twisting and ruining everything in its path!
I had found an abandoned 1″ thick rope a few months earlier. Not friendly to hands, it seemed tough enough, at least it looked tough. I grabbed it and let go of it right away. Then I put on my gloves first and grabbed it, ran out into sharp cold, and ran that rope from the top of the solar panel frame to the one tree that stood close on the side where the wind was blowing from. The next day I anchored it around both sides of the top of the panel and back to the tree. Done.
It still shook when the winds kicked up. I no longer was alarmed. Maybe I should have been? The whole set up is different now, but the rope is back in place, and when it shakes, I go right back to what I am doing.
in an old rope.
in a tree, which is still alive, unlike it’s neighbours.
in my ingenuity … well not really. I’m just too tired to think how to make it better and then get out and make it so. Soon, one of these days. Maybe when the rain stops.
God’s Kingdom is not shaken. It does the shaking throughout the whole universe. Wisdom begins with fear of the Lord, and needs love of the Lord (based on the Lord’s love of us) to grow.
All around, even as Covid 19 shakes us, or it should, God’s wonders are worth being awestruck by. The rope may last another day or so, or a year. But God’s unshakability lasts forever. From generation to generation God rules the universe.
For this we can stand in awe and give God praise and thanks.
There is no wind, or virus, or evil that comes against us that God is not more powerful than.
Covid 19 has shown we can meet the emissions targets set by the U.N. Maybe, just maybe, we will learn to keep it up even as the economies restart, and hopefully grow.
Then the winds may not continue to become more and more ferocious. And we can stand in thankful awe of God’s power, instead of in awful fear of what we’ve brought the environment to do to try to be rid of our destructive ways.
above all else
and count our blessings … they never stop. God is not shaken as more and more blessings pour over us, for us to share with others.
But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
Words of Grace For Today
The Philistines with Israel.
Goliath versus David.
The Devil and all his powers to destroy versus the Disciples of Jesus proclaiming peace.
Covid 19 versus us, the whole population of earth.
The whole human population of earth versus all life for the survival of planet earth.
The Devil and all his deceiving followers versus the people of God who rely on truth, forgiveness and love, which is a battle with ourselves sinner-saints that we are.
… and all the other battles and wars we are caught up in.
The battles we enter in the wars we are a part of, whether we choose to be or not, are never among equal parties.
It appears that our enemies, like Israel’s and David’s (the Philistine giant Goliath), are much more powerful than we are. It seems futile to engage in what seems to be a battle to them with assured victory, when we insist it will be peace.
Like David (we hope) we are equipped with nothing great, perhaps just a slingshot and a few pebbles, or more likely just a heart filled with gratitude, joy, and hope.
Our enemies have great arsenals:
The Devil has hoards of followers and a long track record of winning and destroying those he conquers. He has the record of setting the world standards in such a way as to make life impossible unless one cheats, lies and destroys others by taking from them what one wants.
Goliath has already scared the entire Israeli army into retreating from fighting with him.
Covid 19 works in stealth mode, catching us when we are unaware, and recruiting us to spread it to others even before we know we are ill. It attacks in many and various ways, depending on the health and genes of the person invaded. We cannot see the enemy until it may be too late.
Maybe we have water and soap, sometimes hand sanitizer, and orders to stay away from others, and to stay the blazes home, but we have no idea if all that actually works, or if we can do that long enough before the virus destroys our economies so far that there is not much left of us.
We stand in God’s presence everyday. God stands with us. We need not fight at all. We humbly submit to God’s will, confess our sins and receive forgiveness, new and abundant life, and a calling to spread the news of God’s love in Jesus, which saves us all.
Whether we prevail as David did with just a pebble, God ensures that our efforts as part of God’s Kingdom bring peace to earth, in God’s time and in God’s manner.
God ensures, despite our efforts, our successes, or our failures, that there is peace for us and for all others who call on God’s name.
That outcome is why it is possible for us to engage, against all odds, to bring truth and Christ’s light to bear on all evil.
Covid 19 may not be easy to battle, yet we are on the winning side, even if it ends our lives or the lives of our loved ones here and now.
God has overcome death with Jesus’ resurrection. This we can trust.
Looking at things from God’s perspective always does
net us truth.
The Lord said to Moses, ‘Is the Lord’s power limited? Now you shall see whether my word will come true for you or not.’
And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?”
Words of Grace For Today
Part of the human condition, built in for survival, is that we can worry, or anticipate with concern, dangers that we may face. And we can do this in such an engaging way that we do something about the danger.
In the summer, there is little pressing reason to make warm clothes. When the bitter winds blow the light blizzardy snow over the thick lake ice set by weeks of -35⁰ and colder temperatures, then the need for warm clothes is clear!
Worry, or being able to anticipate with fully engaging concern, helps us get on with the hard work in the warm weather of making warm clothes for our family for the winter. And for those who cannot make clothes for themselves.
Jump ahead a few eons, and we just need to have a job that pays well enough so that we can go to the store where warm clothes are offered for sale, because someone else has made them, someone else transported them, and someone else has put them in the store for sale.
Now our worry or anticipatory concern drives us to have a job that pays enough so that we can afford warm clothes. Note that our ‘worry’ drive becomes more and more disconnected from our real needs as we face real dangers in the cold winters.
So why does Jesus teach that we should not worry. God clothes the birds of the air and flowers in the field with great beauty. God will also clothe us. Will God? Can we just quit our jobs and go to the store and get the clothes we need for the winter come October? Simply put no.
God provides. God provides everything we need. God provides the drive to be concerned before a danger presents itself. God also provides enough rational capabilities for us to sort out how our drives are disconnected from our real needs and real dangers.
But we are lazy. Part of the human condition so that we do not waste limited energy on useless activities. Thinking clearly is hard work. We like to not think about what is going to happen and just let our God given ‘instinctual’ drives run us. We like to give in to the easy temptations the Devil offers, and instead of using our instinctual drives according to some clearly thought out value system, an ethic, we just let it all happen to us and we take no responsibility. Meanwhile the Devil builds up a perverted rationalization in our minds as to how and why we do what we do. Easy sins are easy to rationalize.
And all hell breaks loose in our lives, because the disconnect between our drive, the dangers we face, and the anticipatory concern to address the dangers are so distantly disconnected that our ‘worry’ now drives us to do all sorts of foolish things, things that rob us and others of life.
We develop, instead of utilitarian answers to our needs for life, an adornment on top of our needs that encroaches on the utilitarian value of the things that meet our needs … and it spirals out of control until, instead of utilitarian things, we acquire pure aesthetics that do not meet our need at all. Our real needs are not met. Our ‘worry’ spirals up, we acquire more things that also do not meet the real needs we have. More and more until we cannot even see the real needs as they are covered by ‘fictionalized needs’ that must be met.
We worry ourselves sick about ‘meeting’ these ‘needs’.
These are the worries that Jesus advises we leave behind, and trust that God will clothe us, as God does the birds of the air and the flowers of the field.
God will clothe us by reconnecting our real anticipatory concerns, and drive thereof, to meet our real needs.
Throw into that mix, since we’ve escaped into aesthetics instead of utilitarian things, that we actually do need to create, enjoy, and admire beauty, both naturally occurring and human created. The first reflects God’s Spirit showing itself for us to marvel at. The later reflects the human spirit, given to us by God, that can overcome otherwise insurmountable dangers and challenges.
Simply put, art and beauty (not necessarily the same, but they can overlap) direct our minds and spirits to connect with people out of the past. Connected to the past we can see the present more clearly, more profoundly. And then we are equipped to ‘see’ the future as it is. It is in God’s hands. We can approach each day with hope.
God’s work will come about. We need not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” Instead we can lighten our minds to see the real challenges and expend our energies to meet them. Sometimes that will mean working hard to provide food, drink, or clothing.
Always that will mean giving God thanks for all that is possible each day.
The worry that Jesus directs us away from is the destructive, downward-spiralling negative thought patterns aimed at things we really can do nothing about, or things around which we’d be better off if we actually did what we can to mitigate the challenges ahead.
Regardless, God will do as God promises. We are God’s, God is with us.
Covid 19: there are many things we can do. Hand washing and physical distancing and Staying the Blazes home and thinking clearly how we acquire things, or touch things that could have the virus on them, and self-isolating and quarantining if we show even small symptoms … these are only some of the basic and smart things we can do to mitigate the risk to ourselves and everyone around us. We can also help others do these things. Sometimes we need to figure out how to inspire others to do these things.
Then our lives are all about caring for ourselves and others, physically (to social distance ourselves from the fridge, but climb those stairs 10 to 100 times a day), spiritually (setting a specific time to read, pray, and sing each day), and mentally (get a few old fashion games going – even if that is like chess over the phone, or four-way board game, all by telephone – it goes slow, but then we’ve got time, right! OK, parents with children maybe not a second, but get the children playing with friends over the phone. Let them be creative, constructive, and helpful to others.)
And get on the phone: make a call list of people who could use a good word, and call them once a week or so. Model it for children. Do it for your elders. Take care of the vulnerable.
We can STOP worrying, by getting on with what we actually can do.