Now, I’d later learn the unofficial term of what I was about to do is called Bible Roulette - this is where one challenges God to prove God’s self by opening the bible and randomly slamming one’s finger down on verse. That verse, of course, will be the answer you’re looking for.
In between short sips of air and the voice screaming “How will I put shoes on their feet?” I attacked the Bible next to my bed and smashed my finger down on the page. And this is what I read. “Why do you worry about clothing?”
That was all it took. God won. I didn’t have the fight in me anymore. As I surrendered and let go of my fear, that tight grip on my heart was released. All my worries seem to just melt away.
One of the most repeated phrases in the entire bible is “Do not be afraid,” or a variation like “Do not fear,” or “Do not worry.” I’ve been told that this phrase is repeated in the Bible 365 times. In these few verses alone, Jesus says four times.
Between the wars and threats of wars, a lingering pandemic, and a fragile economy It’s hard not have a little worry and fear rattling around inside your head. You might not worry what you’re going to eat or wear, but many of us are afraid of what others think or worry what they say behind our backs.
Parents will always worry about their children. And children will worry about their parents. You might worry about getting a promotion, while someone else is fearing losing their job. It wasn’t that long ago when there was worry and fear about having enough toilet paper for everyone.
According to Jesus, focusing our energy on that stuff won’t add another second to your life. It won’t give you any more sleep. Or less grey hairs. Instead, we’d do well to follow the advice of Alfred E. Neuman, the iconic spokesman for Mad Magazine who famously quipped: "What, me worry?"
His sage advice was always the opposite of what my teachers were telling me at school. For some reason they wanted us to worry. Worry about our grades, worry about our future, and definitely worry about being judged by God. It’s as if they wanted us to be full of fear, instead of being filled with faith.
watch service here
Looking at the birds flying around, and the grass blowing in the breeze, Jesus shifts our attention off of us, and directs it back to God. And God’s faithful abondance.
He reminds his disciples that just as animals and flowers are made by God’s divine hand, so too are each one of them. If God takes care of the least of these in creation, then surely that includes every human being too.
God’s kingdom is about abundance, not scarcity. During my panic attack I had lost sight of this powerful truth. I suspect these new disciples had too. Granted, they had a good reason to be worried and afraid. After all, they quit their jobs and left the security of their family and community to follow Jesus.
We too might have legitimate reasons to fear where Jesus is leading us. I certainly did. But what good does it do? How does it help us become a community formed and fashioned for God’s kingdom?
Here’s what we need to remember: God is faithful to a fault.
Jesus looks at the world around him, and essentially tells the twelve to empty themselves of their fears and worries so they can be filled with the abundance of God’s provision and care. “Live in God’s faithfulness and you’ll be alright.”
This is God’s Kingdom. God is still in control.
If we believe God is an intimated, caring, and a trustworthy parent who provides all that we need, then it’s possible for us to become a community that shares the same intimacy, care, and trust with others.
As Jesus will spend the rest of his ministry demonstrating, God gives us all that we need to enter every space as a living manifestation of God’s loving abundance.
As Jesus shows us, God’s perfect love helps us become perfect at loving each other.
Because God is more faithful, we can be faithful to one another.
Because God is more merciful, we can always show mercy. Because God is more than gracious, we can always be gracious.
We can love God, love others, and serve both because God is forever faithful. God’s will always prevail…even if and when we fail.
Looking at Anamesa, that space between heaven and earth, Jesus reminds us that every living thing is under God’s care. And God will not leave us without resources or support. Just as God has not abandoned the forest and oceans, God will not abandon you or me. Once we wrap our head and heart around this reality, worry or fear will lose all its power over us.
When we come to embrace God’s faithfulness and goodness, then we can go out into the world as “a living witness to the character of God’s loving abundance and care for creation.”
So you see, Alfred E. Neumann was right. “What, me worry?” All is okay and we’ll be okay too. Or to quote Richard Rohr, “Stop fretting and fearing and enjoy divine union now.”
As we make our pilgrimage through Lent to Easter, we might face challenges and circumstances that could cause a panic attack or two. But I’ve learned, time and time again, that we can face life’s uncertainties and contingencies knowing God is ever faithful and ever present; creating new life out of our pain and suffering. And even out of death.
As we walk towards the Good Friday cross, and the darkness that follows, may we never lose site of the Easter light that broke through the darkness - where God proved to the world what God is capable and willing to do to for all of creation.
The One who looks out for the transient life of grass with such beauty and care, is also looking out for you and me.
Instead of worrying about what you will eat, or drink or wear let’s use our time and energy being a people whose faith is in grounded in God’s faithfulness; whose love mirrors God’s love; and whose focus is on the Kingdom of God and righteousness.
If we trust Jesus at his word, then all these things will be given unto you.
Adapted from Seriously, Don't Worry About It by Ian Macdonald on 08.22.2021
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”