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.

Spring Cleaning

Image courtesy of Vecteezy.com

You are already made clean by the word that I have spoken to you. John 15:3 RSV

I don’t spring clean. My mother did, though. So did my mother-in-law. Both turned the house upside-down every spring to get to the ceilings, walls, floors, and giving everything on and in them—and I mean everything—a good scrub-down.

It’s not that I don’t like a clean house. It’s not that I’m lazy. It’s just that I can’t stand for things to be out of place. I’d wait until I couldn’t stand the dust anymore to get out my Swiffer duster. The floor was vacuumed more often once I bought a new, lightweight upright that swiveled and maneuvered around furniture like a sleek racecar and was easier on my back. Occasionally I gave the house a thorough cleaning, but not annually and not all at once. I couldn’t handle that.

But since DH retired, he’s taken over the cleaning duties so I could have the time to write. He’s much better at keeping the house clean than I was. He doesn’t let things go until he can’t stand it any longer.

Just as I need to give my house a thorough cleaning periodically, so must I do the same with my spirit, going through room by room, tossing the trash and clutter that’s accumulated, and sweeping away all the dust and dirt—the residue of everyday living.

My spiritual “Swiffer” is the Word of God; my vacuum cleaner, prayer. And what better time to do my spiritual spring cleaning than Lent? Beginning with Ash Wednesday and ending on Easter morning, Lent is a time to examine ourselves for anything that clutters and dirties our spirits, hindering our spiritual growth and thus our relationship with God.

That’s why I’m taking a“40-Day Challenge” to read through the Gospels by Easter. Two chapters a day will get me through Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for Easter than to read through the accounts of the life and ministry of Christ written by His closest disciples.

I’m also keeping a SOAP journal, copying one verse of Scripture to meditate on (“S”); writing down in one or two sentences what I see (observe) in that verse (“O”) and how to apply it to my life (“A”); and finally a one or two sentence prayer (“P”) relating to the verse. I like the SOAP format because wordy me has to be concise, and it’s in that very conciseness that the meaning shines like a cleaned and polished room.

Prayer is also a vital aspect of the 40-day challenge. Prayer is simply talking to God. I keep a prayer journal at the back of my SOAP journal. I note personal prayers and requests for others. I pray for needs on my heart, folks and situations the Holy Spirit brings to mind as I pray. I also record when and how my prayers are answered.

My spiritual spring cleaning may turn things topsy-turvy. Although I like order and organization, I’ve got to give God room to work—and trust Him for the results.

Why not take the 40-day challenge with me?

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a new and right spirit within me. Search me and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Amen. (Based on Psalms 51:10 and 139:23, 24)

More “tea” for the 40-day challenge: 2 Timothy 3:16; Jeremiah 29:13; James 4:8; Psalms 51 and 139; Hebrews 4:12.

Read and reflect on Psalm 19:7-14

From God, Me & a Cup of Tea for the Seasons © 2018 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.