The Birds of the Air

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019 Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

“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.” –Jesus, as quoted in Matthew 6:34 (The Message)

 It was literally the birds of the air that caught my attention one morning during my quiet time.

The morning temperatures were still warm enough to sit out on the back deck and absorb the peacefulness of the woods behind my house. I’d not slept well the night before, my mind whirring with worries.

I know—Christians aren’t supposed to worry, right? But life slams Christians, too. What makes it different for us is how we respond to it.

And I wasn’t responding very well. Not as well as I thought I would. It’s easy to spout Scripture when things are going relatively smoothly. But when the storms come, the winds tear at your faith, and the waves crash over your resolve to stand firm, it’s all you can do to hang on.

Scripture tells us to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7) and He’ll sustain us (Psalm 55:22). It’s one thing to read those words; it’s another story entirely to do them.

Now, I’m good at casting. The problem is I keep reeling the burden back in. And casting it out again. And reeling it back in.

That night I cast my burden on the Lord by presenting Him with the whole list of what was worrying me. I claimed Philippians 4:19—that God will supply all that I needed. And, in keeping with Luke 11:9, I asked. I sought. I knocked.

Now if only I could leave the response to Him.

But no. I awoke the next morning with the burden still heavy on my mind, heart, and spirit.

The little gray bird flitting from limb to limb caught my eye first. Then the robin, worm still in its beak.

“Look at the birds of the air,” I heard God say. “They neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)

I looked up the Scripture—Matthew 6:25–34. Three times Jesus said, “Do not worry.”

And I remembered Philippians 4:6—“Don’t be anxious or worried about anything.”

I did the second part of that verse—“pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.” But peace still eluded me. Because I kept reeling those worries back in again and again.

“Worry is like a rocking chair,” motivational speaker Glenn Turner noted. “It gives you something to do but it gets you nowhere.”

I’m not good at sitting and waiting for God to work. I have to be doing something—anything but be still.

“I have come, that they might have life,” Jesus said, “life in all its fullness” (John 10:10). Abundant life.

And worry compromises that abundant life by siphoning your hope, your joy, and your energy, and replacing them with anxiety, insomnia, tension, and irritability. In other words, you’re no fun to live with.

So, how do we deal with worry?

First, recognize where it comes from: the enemy of our souls, a lack of trust in God, and a weak faith. That’s a hard pill to swallow.

Second, respond to it by praying: cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there!

Prioritize that worry list. Determine what’s most important and, with prayer, deal with that.

And finally, live in the present.

“Worry is carrying tomorrow’s load with today’s strength—carrying two days at once,” said Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom. “It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

Look at your calendar. See that square marked today? Focus on that. Live in one square at a time.

Do you dwell on the what if’s?

Do you focus on the worst-case scenario?

Do you lie awake at night because your worries are whirring through your mind and you just can’t put them to bed?

Maybe, like me, you need more practice with your casting—and learning not to reel them back in.

When I thought, “My foot slips,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.  When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.  –Psalm 94:18–19 ESV

Read and reflect on Matthew 6:25–34.

 © 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.

Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoor Shots, © 2019, by Mark Kephart Sr. All rights reserved. Used with permission.  Click here to see more outdoor shots.

Conditions and Promises

The view from my back deck – my quiet place

But those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land. – Psalm 37:9 NIV

My life is a witness to the faithfulness of God.

Back when we were poor and renting an apartment in town, we longed for a house in the country. But circumstances being what they were, the only chance we had of attaining that dream was a prayer.

But prayer, as we’ve learned over the years, is the most powerful force in the universe. Because sincere prayer unlocks the power of a God who loves us, has a plan and purpose for our lives, and wants the best for us – His best.

Back then Psalm 37 attached itself to my spirit, particularly verse 9: “Those who hope in the LORD will inherit the land.”

And, oh, how we desired land – wide open spaces to roam and grow and raise our family.

Dean grew up on a 90-acre farm, and times spent visiting his parents in the country brought a spring to his step, a gleam to his eyes, and a joy in his heart that nothing else could. I saw a side of him I didn’t see when we were in town. I loved this side of him, and being the good wife that I am, longed for a home in the country even more.

But – the great “buts” of life – the obstacles, the mountains we cannot climb, the impossible dreams.

But nothing is impossible with God (Matthew 19:26, Luke 1:37).

Ever notice the “but factor” in the Bible? First a statement of distress, then “But God . . .” There’s neither time nor room to explore all the places in the Word this statement appears. But let’s just focus on one psalm: Psalm 37 – the psalm the Lord gave me when I felt hopeless, the psalm I clung to over the years, the psalm I believed was God’s promise to me.

I particularly latched onto verse 4: “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

The desires of my heart can be dangerous if not in line with what God wants for me. So my prayer became, “Lord, place Your desires in my heart, so I want what You want me to want – what You want for me.”

As I studied the psalm further, I saw it was a condition-promise psalm. There were certain conditions I am to fulfill for God to act on my behalf. Let’s look at them.

I am to:

  • not fret
  • trust in God
  • do good
  • live in dependence on Him
  • delight in Him
  • commit my way to Him
  • rest in Him
  • refrain from anger and forsake wrath
  • depart from evil
  • wait on the Lord
  • keep His way

And God will:

  • give me the desires of my heart
  • act (bring it to pass, answer prayer)
  • bring forth righteousness and justice
  • cause me to inherit the land
  • give me an abundance of peace
  • uphold me with His hand
  • be my strength in times of trouble
  • deliver me

I especially love verses 23–24: “The steps of a man are established by the Lord, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the Lord upholds his hand.”

As I look back on my life, I see the faithfulness of a God who keeps His Word, who cares intimately for me, who guides and directs my steps and makes them firm, who gives me the desires of my heart.

Yes, we inherited the land. We have a beautiful home in the country on 13 acres, a family we delight in, faithful friends we can depend on for prayer support, and a God who blesses us exceedingly abundantly above all we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Read and meditate on this psalm.

What verses speak to your heart? What situation in your life do these verses address? And, most important, what is God saying to you?

Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening. Amen.

Read and meditate on Psalm 37

© 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.