Consider

Consider

An Invitation

Consider. That’s the word that stuck with me as I read and re-read Jesus’ words in our Creation Sunday gospel (Luke 12: 22-31). CONSIDER, Jesus says. Consider. Consider is a word that invites us to pause, to think about, to notice something. What a perfect word for our spiritual life as Christians! So, consider several of these thoughts stemming from Jesus’ teaching today.

First consider how you react when you hear Jesus say, “Do not worry about your life.” Does your mind race, with mine, to talk right back to Jesus in your heads and say, “Lord, are you kidding me??!! Do you know what’s going on in my life right now? And I’m NOT supposed to worry??!!” Then, without pause, I can rattle off an endless list of worries that are at the top of my mind: my finances, my work deadlines, my schedule conflicts to sort out in our family, my to-do-list….and that’s just the start. Then the worries ripple out in ever larger circles: the illnesses of friends, the crimes in our communities, the state of our nation, the natural disasters in our hemisphere, the hurt in our world. You know what I mean. If I had a giant whiteboard and invited all of you to start writing worries – we’d fill every bit of that board with color.

What worry?

Because I’m not alone in my worries. We’re all anxious. Anxiety, that kind that physically and emotionally paralyzes people, has become epidemic. Some of us have become immobilized by it. The rest of us have learned to carry it with us wherever we go. Just that word “worry” spins us up. Yet, as it does, hear Jesus say the word “consider”. Consider – give yourself – PAUSE – Jesus says.
How does your worry affect you? How does it affect how you relate to others? How does it affect how you relate to God? Consider your worry. What is all your frenzy of worry about? What is it doing to you?

To consider our sources of worry, anxiety and fear – is to acknowledge that often we are driven by motivations that have no reason to be the center of our lives. If worry drives us to complete the to-do lists, attain enough, accomplish enough, be enough — what is driving us is a frenzy that will never be relieved. If we are driven to escape what makes us afraid, to look over our shoulder at every corner, to hang on to all that we have today because it could all disappear one day tomorrow – then here too we will never find fulfillment. Consider, Jesus says. “Consider the ravens; they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.”

This is a word of consolation to those of us who feel endangered most every day of our lives. And Jesus is speaking to us here, not as some grand ruler who sits removed from us on a gold cloud in heaven and says, “There, there – God will provide. Don’t worry, be happy” – as the old Bob Marley song sings. Instead, this word, consider, comes to us from Jesus, who right now, at this point in Luke’s gospel, is intentionally walking to Jerusalem. He is purposely on his way to the cross, to suffer and die for us. Jesus knows the reality of suffering and worry — but he also lives the confidence of faith.

Yours is the Kingdom

Jesus isn’t simply telling us to suck it up and be content with what we have in order to be like birds and flowers. Jesus is not making light of our need for food and clothing, or the need for our bodies and souls to be filled. But he is telling us to consider that God feeds the birds and adorns growing plants with splendor. God’s way of caring for us, God’s kingdom, comes on God’s terms not ours. God’s kingdom is not an achievement to be sought, but a gift to be received. That kingdom, God’s kingdom, has already been given to us. Our base and motivation for our living, is to trust that God already cares for us.

Know that the kingdom of God is yours and mine. Be grounded in that reality. That fact will turn how you live, inside out. Instead of living by fear, you will live by faith. Instead of the worry of not having enough – you will realize that you have what you need, oftentimes with more to spare. Nations and the ways of the world are extraordinarily good at convincing you that you’ll never have enough and you yourself will never BE enough. As Christians, we don’t live that way. We are children of God. We ARE enough, thanks to God’s love for us. Instead of living in scarcity, we live in abundance. We trust God’s faithfulness!!! So, if trusting God’s faithfulness drives our daily life, how does that look different from the way the rest of the world lives?

It looks like living more in the security of God than the worry of our own hearts. It looks like living more with trust in the Lord than the desperate fear of all the “what if’s” that might harm us. It looks like living more in the moment of each day. And THAT is exactly what considering the ravens and the lilies show us, Jesus says. Consider the natural world all around you, large and small. What snapshots would you show me – of how God’s creation teaches you about abundance or trust or living in the moment? Here are a few of my mental pictures from just this week.

Wonders surround us

Consider the leaf lettuce growing in my garden. I simply tucked some small plants purchased on sale from a farmer’s market into the ground. God has watered with rain and warmed with sun. I’ve abundantly enjoyed more homegrown salads this summer than I’ve ever. I consider that I alone did not make those salads happen. Consider the sights at my parents home on a lake in northwest WI where I visited for a few days: the doe grazing on grass, the minnows wiggling round my toes as I waded in the water of the lake, the downy woodpecker still feeding its young – even though that child woodpecker was now bigger than their parent.

Although a trip up north is nice, you don’t need to go any further than your yard or a nearby park for observation. Consider the fireflies that now blink at night, the squirrels and rabbits scurrying everywhere, the cardinals, robins, finches and wrens that sing their hearts out with every rise and setting of the sun. The beautiful care and creativity of God is all around us for inspiration – we need only stop, look, and listen. To get outside – is to calm our lives.

Have you vacationed this summer? Do you take walks on nice days or sit outside for meals in these short weeks of warmth that we have? Have you watched your kids play outdoor? Consider, consider, consider. What if we trusted a bit more that God participates with us to help us see God’s longstanding faithfulness to each of us and all of life. Which leads to the other blessing received when we consider – to see that all of life is interconnected. We’re connected to the birds and lilies and minnows and yes, even squirrels. So too, are we connected to one another. And we are connected, all of us, to God our Maker.

Consider God’s handiwork

Once you connect to nature – it connects to you and you to it – and you grow to care deeply for it. The great naturalist, John Muir, has said, “in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks”. I’m also reminded of the words of John Glenn, speaking about his view of earth from the space shuttle Discovery. He said, “To look out the window…as I did that first day… to look out at this kind of creation and not believe in God is, to me, impossible.”

I invite you to carry Jesus’ teaching from nature today – to consider God’s handiwork around you – that you may grow in your trust in the Lord, as I close with the words of an old hymn,

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.
Thanks be to God!
AMEN.

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3 Comments
  • Nancie Fuhremann
    Posted at 09:05h, 19 July Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful message.

  • jan grunwald
    Posted at 14:53h, 19 July Reply

    THANKS For The Reminder!

  • Sylvia Batchelder
    Posted at 09:48h, 23 July Reply

    Being out in Nature is always inspirational. As you said, the Creator has designed his Work in such amazing ways–whether we look at flowers, insects, large animals, sky, or landscapes or people–there is so much beauty and so much to learn and appreciate. Thanks you for reminding us!

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