Scripture: Luke 12:13-31
Key verses: (22-23) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing.”
Reflection: This past Sunday I had the opportunity to meet with our Confirmation Class and their parents. Following my colleague Millie Snyder’s lead, I shared with them a picture of me when I was about their age. Do you remember 8th grade? For some, it may have been a joyful time in life, but for me, it was really hard. Anxiety defined my existence. I was anxious about grades, about social life, about making sports teams, about my appearance, about my family. You name it, I was anxious about it. Of course, anxiety in life is not relegated to middle school students alone. It’s part of life as we know it.
“Do not worry about your life,” says Jesus to the crowds in Galilee. My immediate response is, “Thanks, Jesus, that’s really helpful.” When facing anxiety in life, these words can sound like Bobby McFerrin’s classic hit, “Don’t worry, be happy;” not particularly helpful. If someone had said this to me in the midst of my middle school angst, I would have responded, “You have no idea what my life is like. Easy for you to say.” Yet read in their original context, the antidote for anxiety is not simply having a positive attitude in the face of challenge. These words come in the wake of the parable of the rich fool who doesn’t know what to do with his abundant harvest. To resolve his conundrum, the rich fool decides to build bigger barns. In his resolution, the rich fool references himself 13 times in two verses of Scripture. “What should I do? I have no place to story MY crops…I will do this, I will pull down MY barns and I will build larger ones…there I will store all MY grain and MY goods. And I will say to MY soul, ‘MY soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years: relax, eat, drink, and be merry.”
The problem is not simply anxiety, but rather in whom our lives are centered. The rich fool centers life in himself. He lives under the illusion of self-reliance. Everything is about him and dependent upon him. Such an orientation in life cannot provide ultimate security, because we are finite beings. Our lives are fragile, so if we rely on ourselves for security, we will never be truly secure. This is the ultimate source of our anxiety, life centered in ourselves.
Jesus suggests the ravens and the lilies of the field could never imagine self-reliance, and neither should we. Centering our life in God is far more stable. As God provides for creation, God provides for us. As God loves the birds, God loves us. Seeking God’s kingdom, God’s will, God’s purposes, orienting our lives around God, we discover an antidote for our anxiety. I don’t know about you, but in the midst of life’s very good reasons to worry, I need that antidote every day. I find it in the Lord’s Prayer. It reminds us to center our lives in God’s kingdom, God’s will, and to trust God will provide our daily bread and the daily grace we need. Praying the Lord’s Prayer every day is like taking a vitamin for me. See how it works for you in the midst of today’s worries.
Prayer: “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].