It is funny how life repeats itself. When I was in college, I remember the question I got from everyone I met was “so what is your major.” Of course, I learned quickly to not just give my initials of my major—CE—which stood for Christian Education because some folks would think CE meant Civil Engineering…that misunderstanding led to some pretty funny conversations!
Today, I am the one asking my daughter’s friends what their major is. Of course, the world is more complicated, and majors are so much more diverse that sometimes I have to ask politely what that major really means!
Recently one of those folks I had asked what their major was used the wrong verb tense and instead of asking me what my major had been asked me what it was! We had a laugh and for a fleeting moment I felt young. However, I later wondered if someone really looked at my life, what would they think my major is? Sadly, my first thought was worry.
Often, I major in worries. I worry about my kids and my wife and my parents and my siblings and their kids. I worry about my mother-in-law as she goes through a time of grief and transition. I worry about friends and other family members. I worry about my job. And those I work with and the students at my school. I worry about money. I worry about the hot water heater. And the miles on my old van. I worry about the church and our world and poverty and disease and violence and wars and rumors of wars. I worry about being faithful to my God.
And now, looking at this list, I worry about my worry.
Both that I worry so much and that I have forgotten to list some of the worries I have. Of course, worry isn’t new. It has been around since sin. In fact, worry was what led to the fall. In the Biblical story that the Hebrew people used to show how humanity had fallen, Eve is portrayed with the modern day worry young people initial as FOMO—Fear of Missing Out. Eve was worried she was missing out by not eating from the tree of knowledge. We wanted to be equal with God, but since we were not made for that, all we got was sin and more worry.
Jesus of course knew we struggled with worries and fears. He addressed fears often, and he talked specifically about our worries.
“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? “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.” (Matthew 6:25-34)
Jesus reminds us that our worry really is pointless. That God is omniscient and omnipotent and has it all under control.
Alas, my worry does not do anything but raise my blood pressure or cause me to lose sleep.
It reminded me of an old story I recently discovered in a file I was going through. From the looks of it, I think I cut out of a Reader’s Digest.
It is a story of a farmer who is planning his garden so that he could have the best harvest ever. He planted the seeds, made sure that there was enough fertilizer and nutrients and was careful about providing the right amount of water. And then he waits. And he worries. He doesn’t see anything happening — no sprouts, no baby leaves emerging from the ground. Now he is getting really concerned. He begins to pace up and down by the rows of earth, mounded up with nothing showing and nothing growing. He talks to the dirt. He coaxes the seeds to grow. He plays music for the hidden seeds. He does a “harvest dance.” Still nothing. Exhausted, he lies down by his empty garden and falls asleep. When he awakes, he is thrilled to find row after row of baby plants, pushing their way through the soil and reaching up toward the sun. He jumps up and says, “There! All of that worrying really did the trick!”
We smile but how many of us do the same thing in our own lives?
As many churches do this time of year, Saturday morning we will spend time prioritizing and planning for the coming year. We will dream and hope and pray and organize and get ready to implement and go to work.
All of this is exciting and scary. However, none of it is worth worrying over because we are a people of the resurrection. We are assured of the final score. We believe that nothing in life or in death cannot be handled by God. Our job is to be faithful. Our job is to seek and to discern. Our job is to get to work and do our best for the kingdom of God. But in the end, we have to leave it to God. Neither our pacing up and down the rows where we plant our seeds nor doing a harvest dance will make the seeds grow. That is a miracle left up to God and God alone.
The same is true for our lives.
I wish I could say that I after thinking on this and writing these words that I know I will stop worrying. But I worry that would be a lie. Instead maybe I can worry less. I can make it my minor instead of my major.
And what will my new major be. Well, Jesus proposes an idea for us to consider—"But seek first the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness”—and do so with joy and gratitude.
If I did that, I wouldn’t have time to worry because there is a lot of kingdom building to be done and even more to rejoice to our Lord about. And guess what—that plan is a call not only for my life but I believe for the church of Jesus Christ as well.