Sunrise Over the Eastern Shore by Fujishima Takeji

“…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” – Jesus 

“One of the things I like about jazz, kid, is I don’t know what’s going to happen next. Do you?” – Bix Beiderbecke 

If I sit in one of the red plastic Adirondack chairs in my front yard as they are now, I will look Venus full in the face following dusk and Saturn will be on my left shoulder sitting. The cicadas and frogs will sing his praises and walkers will wave. My favorite time of the year though is when the air is almost too cool. The stars are brightest then and there are no mosquitos to swat away. There are fewer walkers and the cicadas are silent as the grave. The trains can be heard in the valley below our mountain and they sound like all the lives I have sometimes wondered if I should have lived. 

Mostly I just think about tomorrow. And even when I think about what has happened before, tomorrow takes over. For yesterday always bleeds into tomorrow.

More times than not, anxiety about tomorrow is at my elbow. Sometimes that anxiety manifests itself like silk in dreams. Dreams about what it would be like to not worry about money and enjoy waking in the morning and going to work. Dreams about vacations. Dreams of laughter that do not have clouds of fears hanging over. Dreams of dignity and fulfillment and unmitigated happiness. The stuff heavens are made of.

These dreams are not terrible in the moment but they sow the seeds of the storms of violent anxiety. An anxiety that debilitates and makes me want to act immediately and then is frustrated when answers to financial riddles are not found. An anxiety that makes me want to vacate the red plastic Adirondack chair because I cannot enjoy all that beauty anyhow.

There are times I am not thinking about tomorrow. And those are the very echoes of movement from the chair that sits at the right hand of God himself. Sometimes I sit in the silence and I am free. I dream without worry. I am thankful. I do not envy. Tomorrow is then left to worry about itself. Such moments are too few but they do happen enough to remind me that Jesus’ command can be obeyed. More than that, it can be experienced in all its glory and wonder.

And when it is, we taste, like the holy meal itself, a bit of all that heaven is for us.

And this is what I want more than anything else – to be free from worry about tomorrow. To be able to deal with today with all its troubles and beauty and wonder and terror. And then when worry rears its head, in conversation or in a red plastic Adirondack chair, I smile in faith, knowing that when tomorrow comes it will be full of all that is today. Actually, there is also the hope of it being better. Of miracles and answered prayers and a today full of childlike wonder. That could happen as well as our greatest fears.

When Jesus tells us to not worry, it is a command. But it is not the command of law alone. In other words, I do not think he is mad when we worry so much as sad when we do. I am not sure if it is a sin when we worry about tomorrow and not forget his words here. Or is it just the result of sin? Maybe it is both. But I cannot get over the belief that Jesus is looking out for our good here and is very long-suffering with our worries. He himself sweat drops of blood when he faced the cross. I do not think his anger is kindled when we worry about our crosses of tomorrow.

His command is the kind given to keep us alive to today. My constant worries about tomorrow steal all the joys of today for the hope of tomorrow’s. 

I worry for a lot of reasons all at once. I can fix it. I can’t fix it. God cares. God does not care. My kids. My wife. I have trouble believing in the God of check engine lights. And though I pray to him, I wonder if he cares at all. Very Romans 7, I know.

I fear what so many of you fear.

My great fear is not if God can care for me and my family. It is if he will. Will he take it upon himself to care for me? That’s the question no one can really answer. When you have watched all the reserves disappear and checked the corners of the storehouse for crumbs, you no longer question if God can do something, you just pray to God he will.

It’s funny, most of the time, people tell you to not worry about tomorrow because God is already there.

So?

You mean the God who has withheld something today is there to do it tomorrow also? If you could take your crocheted sentimentalities and keep them to yourself, those of us who are actually worried how we will pay the bills tomorrow would appreciate it. Thanks.

No, Jesus does what only one mired in grace and mercy would do. He dignifies today’s suffering by telling us they are truly troubles. He calls them what they are. He bleeds on all those crocheted platitudes. He knows that every ‘today’ was once a tomorrow and every tomorrow will be a today.

But then after tomorrow there is another. And another. And the God of all our tomorrows asks us join him in a garden where he will ask for tomorrow to never happen and then with bloody sweat he will say, “thy will be done.” And hopefully we will say the same.

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