Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Set the Tone; Live in the Moment (Chapter 7)

Set the Tone; Live in the Moment

"So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” [1]

I was recently at the funeral of an 18 year old girl.  She was severely handicapped from birth and had not been expected to see her first birthday.  The Rabbi conducting the service, her dad, and others who spoke mentioned the fact that Louise lived “in the moment” and they encouraged us to do the same.  Louise had no choice.  She never worried about what happened or didn’t happen yesterday, nor was she concerned about what might happen tomorrow.  She communicated with her caretakers and others through her huge smiles and her grunts and disagreeable looks.

The message to us was that we would gain by setting aside our concerns about the past and the future.  Our friend Roberta has lived that way for the 17 years she has been working in Haiti.  The motto she has lived by has been “God will provide.”  [2]  She tells the story about sitting down to dinner with the children she had taken into her home to provide for them.  There was no food in the house and one of the children asked. “What will we eat?”  Her response was consistent with her life style, “God will provide.”  Soon there was a knock on the door and a neighbor was there with a live chicken – dinner!

I am sure there have been similar times in your life when you got to the end of your rope, tied a knot to hold on, waited for God, and nothing happened.  Those are the hardest.  But he did promise.  And he does sometimes take an opportunity to teach us patience and perseverance - though we wish he wouldn’t bother.  During the Sermon on the Mount Jesus taught that we shouldn’t worry about what to eat, drink, or wear, but that we should seek his kingdom.[3]  These are not metaphors about our next promotion.  He is writing to Haitians who have good reason to be concerned about what to feed their children tonight.  He is telling them not to worry about it; he will take care of it.  And they look around and see their neighbors with nothing to put on the table.  And he says to be concerned for their souls and for our own.  Either we believe in a God who is in charge and who is able to keep promises and who will keep them, or we don’t.

“And which of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life’s span?  If then you cannot do even a very little thing, why do you worry about other matters?”[4]  The answer is, “Because we can.”  And maybe, “Because we must.” 

Imagine “being concerned” about the health of a family member, on a situation at work, or a relationship issue and someone says, “Just relax; it will all work out for the best.”  Is that a relaxing direction, or doesn’t it just add to our consternation?  "Oh bother, now not only do I have to deal with all these issues in my life, but in addition I have to do it in a peaceful way!”  I don’t recommend going around telling people to relax.  It probably won’t help.   But that is what God wants of us.

God wants us to love him and trust him and to know that he will take care of us in the long run.  And knowing that and trusting him to keep his promises is what it takes to become a confident, peaceful representative of the truth and of the good news here on this earth.

[1] Matthew 6:34
[2] Genesis 22:8
[3]Matthew 6:31-34
[4] Luke 12:25-26

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