It's now a few days into the New Year.
By now some of you have already lapsed on your resolutions and even more have felt the weight that life has, more or less, gone back to normal. It's in this season the dullness of winter truly becomes known. There is no holiday to look forward to, not gathering to tell ourselves will be perfect this year, no holiday specials promising more than they can deliver. And I am guessing that the result is that many have gone back to daily routine.
Unfortunately for far too many people that call themselves Christians, this means a cycle of fear and anxiety about what is going on. And what will come next. It's something that is far too easy to do. I can often find myself wondering what will come next. And wondering what I need to do to usher in the next season of my life, for I'm willing to bet that the one I'm in at the moment won't go down as one of my favorites.
I could list all the things that cause me to be anxious, to worry, to question what is happening...but I'm willing to bet that you would have you own list. Because as people we live in a world that is filled with brokenness. And whether you want to admit it or not, that involves you life as well. In the middle of this it's easy to begin to focus on everything that is not right, and then, at least for me, one of two things happen more than not.
We can become filled with fear of the future, fear that the way things are is how they will always be, fear of all the times we have failed in the past and project that onto the future, and worst of all...fear that God is not the loving Abba that He told us that He was. Or we can often begin to romanticize the future. We can imagine a life where everything goes just the way we want it to go. Sometime we even imagine a struggle or two, just to pretend it's a real dream. But in the end this is just as damaging to us as being crippled by fear. For when we do this we often become angry at God for not giving us something that He never promised He would.
In the middle of the sermon on the Mount in St. Matthew's gospel account Jesus tell us something quite bold. (As if that wasn't the norm for Jesus) "Therefore do not be anxious, saying, 'What shall we eat"' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the Gentiles (those considered to be outside the family of God) seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of righteousness. and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matt 6:31-34)
Right before this Jesus had everyone take a look at the birds that were, I imagine, flying overhead as He was preaching. He pointed and told everyone that God in heaven takes care of these birds. And then He looked down. Seeing the flowers around Him. And again, Jesus told the crowd that God in heaven was the one that took care of, and clothed these flowers that would wilt in tomorrows sun.
So often I can find that when I am in these places where I am overdriven with these feeling of anxiousness and fear these words become a way in which to fight the lie that I am speaking to myself. For no matter what it is that is causing me, or you, to be anxious and fearful of what is to come has at it's root a belief that God will not act in the way in which Jesus told us He will.
My fear is that in reading this it will be easy to relate and believe that this is simply the way things are and that it's not that big of a deal. So to put it another way. Often times I think that Jesus is a liar. Or at least that's what my actions bellow out to the world around me. And as we have already covered, you often do the exact same. No matter how you want to 'church' up your words or redirect so it doesn't seem like that big of a deal.
And the way that we combat this is by fighting for what it true. We have to be able to store these words, and others like it, in our hearts and souls so that we can be far from sin. (Ps 119:11) We have to fight to filter every thought that we tell ourselves through the truth of the gospel. (2 Cor. 10:5)
For me it seems to be an almost constant struggle to fight for this type of faith. But I can easily see that when I orient my life around the truth I claim to believe, that I have died with Christ and it is no longer I who live, but Christ in me (Gal. 2:20), I can see the type of faith that Jesus calls me to on the winning side of this daily fight. When I truly believe that the God who created and commands oceans, lightning, supernovas, back holes, and everything in between is my loving Abba who adopted me and told me to come to Him with my every need, thought, and prayer...when I really believe this I find that I pray far more often. And far more honestly. When I spend time to truly read through the Scripture and see the thread of the gospel woven through each verse and story, I find that my heart is more prone to times of personal and corporate worship.
These are very few examples, but I hope you get where I am going with this.
So, no matter how great you have been so far this new year or how great you have screwed up already take heart in truth that Christ has told us. That we have a loving Father who desires to care for our need. That we need not be anxious or fearful of tomorrow, no matter what it might bring. But also remember that these are promises that are given to those who seek, above all else, the Kingdom which was inaugurated in Bethlehem's manger and will be consummated when all creation stands before the White Throne. For when we belong to the Kingdom, we are protected and cared for by the King.