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.

The Risk of Prayer

Mike from Tibbens Towing in Clearfield, PA, backs our camper into our campsite. (Aug. 12, 2019)

 

So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. –Jesus, as quoted in Luke 11:9–10 NIV

In his book, Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge, Mark Batterson tells about an African missionary whose church met beneath the shade of a tree near the village because they didn’t have a building in which to worship. The local witch doctor wasn’t too happy with that, so he cursed the tree and it withered.

When you preach Christ and His power, when you preach an awesome God who can do the impossible, when you preach the powerful presence of the indwelling Spirit, you better be ready to stand firm. Trials always come to test your faith, especially when you proclaim it.

In response, the missionary called for a public prayer meeting during which he laid hands on the tree and asked God to resurrect it.

In public. Where everyone could hear him.

“If God doesn’t answer his prayer,” Batterson wrote, “he would have dug an even deeper hole. That’s the risk of prayer, isn’t it?”

That made me think. How often do we say “safe” prayers, all in the realm of the possible? Do we have the courage to pray the impossible prayers? Or do we pray them, but give ourselves an out?

“Sometimes,” Batterson noted, “God calls us to ante up all the faith we have, and then let the chips fall where they may.”

When I read this devotional, appropriately titled “Shameless Audacity,” DH and I were in a real pickle. Two days earlier the transmission went in our pickup while towing the camper to the campground. Now, while we sat at the campground, the truck sat in the towing company’s lot, waiting for us to decide what to do with it.

Rebuilding the transmission would cost anywhere from $3,800 to $4,600. With taxes coming due in another month, the fuel oil tank needing replenished before winter, DH retired for nearly a year, and us living on a very limited income, where would the money come from? The extended warranty (that’s another story) expired in April.

It just so happened (translate: God-thing) a Christian couple were camped a few sites up from us. On one of his walks around the campground, DH stopped and talked to them. They, as well as everyone in the campground, knew of our predicament. After all, a tow truck had backed our camper in our site then left with our truck.

So they prayed with DH—that the truck would be fixed at no cost to us! Now that’s a bold prayer!

Bold prayers take bold faith. Shameless audacity.

Shameless means disregard for that others may say or think. Audacity is a willingness to take bold risks.

Faith calls us to believe nothing is impossible with God. “It’s the impossible prayers that honor God because they reveal our faith and allow God to reveal His glory,” Batterson noted.

I thought about the impossible scenarios in the Bible: the Red Sea parting and the Israelites walking across on dry ground. The walls of Jericho falling down flat without a hand touching them. Barren Sarah and 100-year-old Abraham having a baby. The virgin birth of Jesus. His miracles. His resurrection.

God specializes in the impossible!

If God can speak the universe into being, can He not take our impossible situations and turn them into HIM-possible ones?

I still don’t know where the money is going to come from to pay for the transmission. But I do know Jesus said to ask, seek, and knock. He promises that what we ask will be provided, what we seek we’ll find, and the door will open when we knock.

Oh, yes, the withered tree … “Not only did God break the curse and resurrect the tree,” Batterson wrote, “it became the only tree of its type to yield its fruit not once, but twice a year. A double crop! A double blessing!”

What impossible situation are you faced with today? What bold prayer do you need to pray?

Remember, sometimes you’ve got to ante up all the faith you have, pray with shameless audacity, and let the chips fall where they may.

Dear God, give me the holy boldness to pray the impossible prayers. Amen.

Read and reflect on Luke 11:5–9; 18:1–8; James 1:2–4.

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.