Do not worry. Easy for Jesus to say, isn’t it? He doesn’t have to worry about anything. He’s up there in heaven with His Father waiting for His Father’s summons to return to judge the living and the dead. He isn’t worried about anything because He’s not here with us. He doesn’t understand what life is like living in the trenches of daily warfare that is life. He’s not on the front line having to deal with other worried people as we hurry through our lives being worried together. How dare the Son of God say one thing about worry when He has no need to worry!
That’s not the case. Jesus teaches you not to worry today because He knows, and He wants you to believe, that everything is under His Father’s providential care.
But what about the pandemic? What about the rolling seven-day rate of positivity in Region Seven of Illinois? What about all those pernicious anti-maskers and unauthorized family gatherings and hymn singers in churches and indoor diners and lying government officials (or truth telling, depending on your perspective) and so-and-so and such-and-such and on-and-on until you’re red in the face and worried to death about everyone else and everything else? What about the upcoming presidential election? The future of our country is in our hands! What about the economy? Isn’t the Second Great Depression around the corner? What about riots and looters in Chicago and Los Angeles and Seattle and elsewhere? Don’t you think they’ll be on our streets soon? What am I going to do about all these things and Jesus tells me which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? What kind of fool is He?
What kind of fool are you? You are worried about many things. Not one of them is under your control. You are not looking at what is happening now. You are anxious about the future. You won’t focus on what you have in the present. Jesus shifts your focus today by having you consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. Take them as your perspective changer and see how they don’t worry about a thing. They know, unlike you and me, that they will be provided for by their Creator.
Take a moment on your way out of the church building this morning to listen and look at two different things. Listen to the birds singing, if you are able to hear any. Not one of them has cable or satellite television to tell them what to think about anything. They do not have any access to social media to signal their virtue to their online fan club. The birds of the air are far too busy to be brainwashed and to brainwash others. They are gathering food for themselves and their young. They are building nests to protect themselves. Your heavenly Father feeds them. They sing because that’s what birds do. They work because that’s what birds do. You won’t hear any gripe from them about their life. They find food and shelter and care for themselves. Their Creator, our Creator, our caring heavenly Father, feeds them.
As you hear the birds sing or fly through the air, think for a moment about how you are cared for by your heavenly Father. You have a house. You have income, even if you no longer work. You are able to afford the basics in life such as food and clothing. Yes, you may not have gourmet food and designer label clothing but you’re neither hungry nor naked. If that isn’t enough, your heavenly Father has also provided forgiveness of sins and eternal life in His only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ. His blood shed for you covers your sin and declares you righteous before God our Father. Eternity is yours in Christ. Death is swallowed up in His victory for you. So why are you worried about everything else when the one thing needful is taken care of for you?
The other thing you should look at on your way out of the church building today is the giant oak tree to the south of the Pine Street doors. Autumn arrives this week and leaves are starting to fall from that oak tree. Every morning when I wake up and roll up the shades on our bedroom next door, I get to see that oak tree. In the winter it’s a dreary sight, but in the other three seasons it teaches me a lesson about God’s providential care for me and for that tree.
Thursday morning I rolled up the shades in time to see a leaf fall from that tree. The first thing I thought of when that leaf fell was not that winter was on the way. The first thing I thought of was how wonderful it must be for that falling leaf not to have to worry about a pandemic or an election or any of our worries. It budded, it flowered, and now, having served its purpose in creation, it falls to the ground. I didn’t see a Trump or Biden campaign sign on it anywhere. It wasn’t wearing a mask. It simply fell to the ground having done what God intended it to do: provide shade for people and a home for animals.
Animals and plants live in the now. They are not concerned about their past or their future because they have enough to concern themselves at any moment. You don’t hear fields of corn or soybeans wave in the wind complaining about how ugly they are. You never hear birds chirp a lament about this year’s vintage of worms or their need of silk plumage to cover themselves. They concern themselves with what is happening now. A crop is planted, watered, given sunlight, and then is ultimately harvested. Animals are born, are cared for, care for themselves and their young, and ultimately die. They don’t gripe about God and how He treats them. They are provided for and thus provide for themselves.
You can be angry about current events. You can sulk about all the troubles in your childhood. You can fret about your offspring’s futures. You can also consider the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and learn something from their lack of care about all those things. They do not seek after wealth and all that mammon offers. They do not lament their unfortunate circumstances. They don’t even see their circumstances as unfortunate. They live their lives right here, right now.
King David gives us a clue what it means to live in the now that our heavenly Father gives us when he sings: The eyes of all look to you, [O Lord], and you give them their food in due season. You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing. Another Psalmist says in Psalm 147: He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry. His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love. Those are the words Martin Luther teaches us to say at the table before and after we eat. Luther was a wise man because He saw that God provides everything we need to support this body and this life right now. It is futile to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. You have enough to concern you today, right now, right this very moment. Your biggest concern is already handled in Christ Jesus. Your sins are forgiven. New life is yours. Everything else is extra sprinkles on the hot fudge sundae of life.
God gives. You receive. His kingdom and His righteousness are yours. Love and live in those holy things He gives you and everything else necessary for daily living is yours. Jesus promises it, and He will deliver them for you.