Jesus said, “Don’t worry about your life.” Why is that so difficult to follow?
It’s actually a trick question. The why isn’t what is important. If we want to eliminate worry we have to take Jesus at his word. We have to trust. How do we trust? Well, you’re not going to like this… we trust by… trusting. That’s the only way. It’s like riding a bike.
A few years ago I had the privilege of witnessing my nephew make the transition to his big boy bike--and he was NOT having it. There was a lot of "no no no no no no" being exclaimed as his dad said, "I'm going to let go now." My nephew was fine as long as he could see his Dad’s hand holding on to the seat of the bike. He trusts that his dad is not going to let anything bad happen to him. However, is that really trust? No, that’s seeing. The trusting happens when he actually pedals the bike! Until that first push forward into the unknown, my nephew wasn’t in a place of trust, he was in a place of certainty. It’s the same way with us.
How can we push that pedal forward and let go of worry? Jesus gives us lots of examples in Matthew 6:25-34. Today I invite you to sit with that passage, read and reflect, and put yourself and your worries directly into these words of Jesus.
(1) Begin with a simple prayer:
Holy Spirit, guide my imagination. Open my mind and my heart to images that will further convince me of the Father's great love and generous heart. Remove distraction. Help me to better understand what worries are a block to peace and freedom in my heart.
(2) Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25-34.
(3) Rewrite this passage from Matthew in your own words with your own worries... and your own analogies.
Jesus lists typical worries: life, eating, drinking, your body, what you will wear, tomorrow. Include a minimum of 5 examples of your personal worries that are NOT the ones Jesus listed... e.g. your finances, your graduate school application, your health, your defiant 3 year old, etc.
Jesus gives examples from nature of creatures that do not worry: birds, wild flowers, the grass of the field. Include at least 3 examples from nature that are NOT birds, wild flowers, or grass... let your imagination drive the analogies. e.g. Learn from the way the koalas* cuddle. They do not fear vulnerability or rejection. Get creative!
Why do this? Sometimes reading a passage in Scripture is comforting... but sometimes the words of Jesus remind us just how far off the mark we are. *gulp* Take Jesus's words to heart as you reflect, and let the Holy Spirit guide your imagination.
(4) Reread what you've written, imagining the words coming directly from Jesus to your troubled heart.
Don't have a Bible handy? Here is Matthew 6: 25-34 (New American Bible).
“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 than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” --Jesus
*I wish I could take credit for the koala example, but it comes from one of my brilliant and beautiful 7th grade girls.