Living With Purpose
Early in our marriage, my wife and I purchased a house that was listed on the National Registry of Historical Places. It was built in 1901 in a small town in the northwest corner of Florida. We both had an affinity for old homes and this seemed like a grand opportunity to restore and preserve a small part of history. With research, we found that the original owner had been an avid bird-watcher. So much was her love of birds; she had the small acreage on which the house stood, certified as a National Bird Sanctuary. There were blue berry bushes planted in all the corners of the yard, numerous camellia shrubs and trees in which the birds could build their nests, and bird houses still stand so that our feathered friends can find shelter and sanctuary year after year. We also learned her house maids would bake cornbread each morning to feed the birds. We were also given her half-century old journal that noted the birds she observed every day for an entire year (1958). Naturally, when the subject of birds is mentioned, we think of this old home place. Jesus was, and still is the master teacher. While not always easy to understand, he often spoke in parables. His stories are relatable to everyday life and his lessons are practical enough to be lived by each of us. But these parables also make you think; to the point where you’re challenged to believe more, to exercise your faith more, and to trust more despite what you may be feeling or can see at the moment.
His teaching in Matthew 6:25-34 gives the cure for anxiety. Matthew 6:26-27 says, “Look at the birds, they don’t plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?” This whole passage is an antidote to worry. To worry is a persistent temptation and struggle for many people. We are presented a beautiful analogy between God’s care for the birds and His care for us. We’ve asked the question, “Aren’t you worth more than the birds (the lesser)?” God’s promises are to take care of His obedient people (the greater).
God commands us not to worry, but some may ask how that’s possible considering all the trouble in this world. The following 5 things are God’s cure for W-O-R-R-Y:
Many people try to avoid work. However, work is an effective antidote to worry. It’s difficult to worry and work at the same time. Doing God’s work is even more helpful. When we’re concerned about the problems of others and we try to give them genuine assistance, we tend to forget our own problems.
Secondly, people often think negative to their own detriment. The worse-case scenario rarely happens, but if that’s all we think about then the chances are greater it will. The struggle with thoughts of self-doubt and self-deprecation, are a real struggle for those worrying how they’re going to make it. We must counter the negative by being optimistic and practice positive thinking, counting our blessings and “naming them one-by-one”. Make it a practice to look for the good, instead of the bad.
Thirdly, don’t be the person who solely relies on others, rather than God. People will let you down, God never will. Reliance and showing appreciation for those who help us is a mark of a Christian, but our ultimate trust and thanks needs to be in God. Hebrews 13:5 says, “For God has said, I will never leave you, I will never abandon you.” God is the One that never fails.
Fourthly, Nehemiah 8:10 is a sharp reminder of what our relationship with God offers: “Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” It’s impossible to rejoice and worry at the same time. We must claim the joy that can be ours. Rejoicing in the Lord is part of the worry cure.
Finally, we must yield ourselves to God. Even in Jesus’ most excruciating hour on the Cross, he prayerfully yielded to his Father’s will. We must do the same. To do so is to follow a guaranteed formula to cure the worry habit. Work, optimism, reliance, and rejoicing will eliminate worry from our lives when we yield to God’s will.
Instead of worrying, Jesus says in the passage of Matthew 6, we should not worry about all the necessities of life, “Instead be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what He requires of you, and He will provide you with all these things. So don’t worry about tomorrow. There’s no need to add to the troubles each day brings.”
Worry seems so reasonable. For some, it may seem to be necessary. But it’s not, according to Jesus. Will we believe him? Are you willing and prepared to live a worry-free life of trusting God to take care of you? Sometimes a little bird-watching is fun and can be good for our faith. Let the birds remind you of God’s promises.
• This bi-weekly column is written by Matthew Dobson. He’s a teacher, U.S. Army Chaplain, and the Pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church in the New York Community. His latest book, “Loving Others with Purpose” has been published and is available along with his nine other books on www. Amazon.com. You can contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.