Written by Craig Denison
Recently Rachel and I had to go through the laborious process of having a tree removed from our backyard that was struck by lightning. It seemed like we spent weeks dealing with something caused literally as quickly as a flash. At the end of it all, I found myself needing a word from God to bring peace. I found that word in Matthew 6:30-33:
"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met" (MSG).
I love the juxtaposition of this concept: "to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving." The road of preoccupation with getting results in fear upon fear compounding an already stressful situation. But, the road of responding to God's giving stirs up within me worship upon worship truly alleviating the stress the weight of the world causes.
It's amazing how something as important as peace is subject to the direction of my thoughts. When my eyes are set on my circumstances and I allow myself to worry about what the money spent on tree removal and fence repair could have been used towards, or what we might need it for in the future I am riddled with paralyzing fear. But, when I allow myself to celebrate the provision of God-- that I have all that I need and have always had what I needed, it produces a greater dependency on my perfectly provisional Father.
I think this juxtaposition of perspectives is at the heart of James 1:2-8, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." Every circumstance, every situation affords us the opportunity of becoming more steadfast in our Rock. Every time we choose to see the world through the lens of God's reality–of God's love– our faith and communion with God grows. While God may not have struck my tree with a thunderbolt from heaven, he will absolutely take a hard situation and use it for eternal good if I let him.
What tree is down in your yard today? What circumstance in your life seems all consuming? Rather than steeping yourself in the fears and "what-ifs" of what's going on around you, how can you "steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions?" The Holy Spirit is ready to guide your heart to the Father. He's ready to produce steadfastness in your heart that "you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing" if you will only allow him to. May what the world throws at us only make us stronger as we work hand-in-hand with God our great Redeemer.