One of my all time go-to scriptures is from the famous 'Sermon on the Mount' which can be read in Matthew 5-7.
Today I want to share a part of it and how it relates to me.
Matthew 6:25-34 NIV (also Luke 12:24-27)
Do Not Worry
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life Or single cubit to your height? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
The verses follow after Jesus was talking about storing up treasures in heaven instead of on earth and that we cannot love and serve both God and Money. Jesus continues to tell us that we shouldn't worry about tomorrow, as our Heavenly Father will care for our every need.
For the past months my husband has been at home without work, we have recently become a family of six and am adjusting to this new family life. As it is with the arrival of a new sibling, our other children have wanted more attention. Our eldest daughter is preparing for her first ever school NAPLAN-testing, our second daughter is finding the new full-time school days difficult, our little boy is wanting daddy to play with all the time and our baby daughter has been feeding two-hourly since her birth even though I give her top-up bottle feeds. During these times I've been overcome with exhaustion and have at times felt completely overwhelmed.. this is when I have focussed and meditated on this scripture as a promise from our Heavenly Father.
Often in life I have needed to remind myself not to worry, whether about finances, health, relationship or other difficult situations and circumstances and I believe instead of worrying I should pray and trust that my heavenly Father cares for me.
Nearly 2 years ago I bought pretty 'flower-with-birds themed' bedding for my two older daughters' bedroom and I painted pretty matching flowers and birds on the walls. At the time I didn't realise how much the décor would remind me of Matthew 6:25-34 when I step into their bedroom.
Besides the beautiful, happy memories I have of spending time with them in it, it is now also a space where I sometimes find myself feel sad and worried. Sad, as they are growing taller and older and have traded in their frilly dresses and sparkly princess crowns for school uniforms. Lately the having fun and getting along together, have been replaced by more disagreements and arguments. It hurts my heart and then I start to think of many things I can worry about. I can worry about their safety. I can worry about them alone at school and whether the things I have tried to teach them have settled in their hearts, hoping they are behaving appropriately and choosing to do right things. I can worry about the areas I've feel I've slipped up and whether my mistakes might forever affect them negatively. I can worry about my parenting style and whether I do enough or too little or everything wrong. I can continue on to worry about many more things. Can you see that it will get me nowhere?
Jesus said: "Don't worry."
What does 'worry' mean?
The dictionary defines the word worry as to feel uneasy or concerned about something; be troubled. To cause to feel anxious, distressed, or troubled.
Instead of worry, I believe we should pray and trust.
What does trust mean?
The dictionary defines trust as a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone or something.
Worry and trust don't go together.
I recently read the following words by Rick Warren -
When you think about a problem over and over in your mind, that’s called worry. When you think about God’s Word over and over in your mind, that’s meditation. If you know how to worry, you already know how to meditate!
How wise are we who replace our worry with the promises that God has for us in His Word instead? The Word of God is powerful, the Bible is filled with promises to encourage and build our faith. From the beginning to the end God has loved us.
Here are some promises from God's Word that I trust in:
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV) Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Romans 8:28 (NIV) And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose
I am human and imperfect. I can't fully trust myself or my young children to behave or do right all the time, BUT I CAN TRUST GOD COMPLETELY.
God is perfect. I can trust Him. When He makes a promise He keeps it and He is not a man that He can lie. And His love has never failed us yet.
I believe that my Father God can fill up where I run empty, He can continue where I stop and extend His Hand of mercy when I come short.
I have lately had many days where I have been in constant conversation with my Father God. I speak to Him honestly and vulnerably and I know that He is hearing my cry and I believe that He helps.
God gives us wisdom when we ask for it. He lovingly whispers correction as He speaks to us through His Word. His Word encourages and strengthens us to endure in all circumstances.
From prison Paul wrote the following encouragement to the in church in Philippians 4:4-9 (NIV) Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Every night our family consisting of two parents and four children aged 8, 5, 3 and 3 months sit in a bedroom on the carpet in front of those flowers on the wall and read bible stories. We read aloud the bible verses from their devotionals and then we pray together. This is how we plant seeds.
The next morning before school I remind them about that same verse and ask them to think of it while at school. I have explained to them how by repeating verses from bible scripture and thinking on God's Word, they are meditating on it. This is how we nurture and water the seed.
I admit that some nights and/or mornings there are disturbances that threaten to spoil our efforts, but I am believing that His Word will grow in their hearts in nonetheless. I choose to pray and trust instead of worry.
Yes, I often have moments that I feel impatient as I would like my children to flower immediately, but my Father God reminds me that there is nurturing required for seed to grow into flowers.
We have certainly done many things in the midst of those painted flowers and birds. We have cried and we have laughed. We have fought with each other and we have asked forgiveness. Like every person, I also prefer the positive instead of the negative, yet these things we don't want seem to creep up like weed in a flower garden. I have come to know that it is better to purposely clean a garden often while the weeds are small and easy to pull, than waiting for them all to grow strong and spoil and overwhelm the beautiful garden. When weed has grown tuff, strength will be needed and help required to dig it out. Worrying won't help, but I believe prayer and trust will.
I know our Father God knows better than we do, His plans and purposes for us are good.
I have chosen to believe His promises and because I fall short, I have decided to pray and trust Him above my own efforts and understanding. And when I trust Him, He gives peace instead of worry.