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.

Trio of Trouble

DEJA VU: I didn’t take a picture of DH changing the most recent flat tire, so here’s a couple of pictures of the flat tire we had on I-80 E coming back from our trip to the Pacific Northwest two years ago. The tire went flat just past Chicago on a section of road reputed to be the worst.

Oh, give thanks to the LORD for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. – Psalm 107:1 NKJV

I got up early one Sunday morning three weeks ago to work on my sermon, but the bottom two rows of my computer keyboard didn’t work. I couldn’t even use the spacebar.

Then, on the way to church, we had a flat tire on the camper. We’d planned to leave for the Allegheny National Forest for a camping trip right after church.

On Monday morning, I put in my hearing aids, but one didn’t work. After I changed the battery, it still didn’t work.

“It’s dead,” I told DH. “Kaput.”

I couldn’t get an appointment with my hearing aid guy until August 6. So I went two weeks feeling off-balance, out of sync. And asking “What?” a lot.

I lamented on Facebook, listing my trio of woes.

“Trouble comes in threes,” one friend commented. “I’m so happy all your troubles are over!”

If only.

“God is good,” people say when their prayers are answered in the manner they want. When unexpected blessings come their way. When life is smooth sailing.

But how many say “God is good” when their prayers aren’t answered the way they want, and heaven’s blessing doors seem shut tight? Do they say “God is good” when trouble comes and moves in for an extended stay?

We sing, “God is good all the time,” but do we live the lyrics?

We should. Because the God we believe in on the mountain is still God in the valleys of our lives. “The God of the good times is still God in the bad times. The God of the day is still God in the night.”*

I’m learning firsthand the truth of the words Paul wrote to the Philippian believers: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7 NLT).

Over and over these words have come to mind this year. This Scripture has become my theme verse for the year—not one I chose at the beginning of January, but one that chose me through life experiences.

And so I’ve refused to fret over the broken keyboard, the flat tire, and the dead hearing aid. Although money is tight with DH being retired now.

I ordered a new keyboard, which I’m still getting used to. (I miss my old one.) At a little over $30, it didn’t break the bank.

We went camping on the spare tire. And had one of the most wonderfully relaxing, refreshing, and rejuvenating trips in a long time.

DH determined we needed to replace all four tires on the camper, since they were on when it bought it last year and we didn’t know how many miles they’d traveled. Gulp! But he did his research, and the final bill totaled a couple hundred less than what we first figured. (Is anyone out there in the market for some good but used camper tires?)

And finally, the dead hearing aid. When I visited my hearing aid guy this week, he discovered the problem wasn’t in the aid itself but in a replaceable filter. Instead of over a grand or more for a new hearing aid, I paid the usual $25 for a clean and check.

“God has a reason for allowing things to happen,” I read online today. “We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.”

All in all, it could have been worse. I am blessed. God is good. Even when trouble comes in threes.

Those who are wise will take all this to heart; they will see in our history the faithful love of the Lord. –Psalm 107:43 NLT

Remind me, Lord, when troubles come, that You are still in control and I am still blessed. Amen.

Read and reflect on Psalm 37.

*From Tracy Dartt’s “God on the Mountain

© 2019 Michele Huey. All rights reserved.