“…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 mosquitoes 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.
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.
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.
Reblogged this on Ruminations on Life.
This is the best i’ve read on this subject, honest, yet not yielding to despair. My husband has been out of steady work for 6 years, it is only by His provision and grace and mercy that we are able to survive. But feel exactly as you described, thank you for putting it so eloquently.
This is the best sentence I have read all week: “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.” I don’t know your chairs or your mountain or your trains or your lives not lived. Except when I read that sentence. Then I know them all precisely, because they are the same as mine.
This is a bit of a trail off of your primary path, but one of my favorite films is Dan in Real Life, in which Steve Carrell proves he is so much more than Michael Scott. The last words you hear in the movie are him voicing over the closing scenes, reading his first syndicated column. It goes like this: “Dear Readers, for most of you, this is my first column in your paper. In the future, I will be answering your questions, but today I want to break from my usual format and talk to you about the subject of plans. Not so much my plan for this column, but life plans, and how we all make them. And how we hope that our kids make good, smart, safe plans of their own. But if we’re really honest with ourselves, our plans usually don’t work out as we had hoped. So instead of asking our young people ‘What are you plans? What do you plan to do with your life?’ maybe we should tell them this: Plan to be surprised.”
I know it was written by a Hollywood screenwriter, but if Jesus wrote a regular syndicated column these days, I think it might go something like that.
Reblogged this on follow the lights… and commented:
Thank you , Matt . You seem to say what I am thinking , only more eloquently than I would. I know this struggle all too well and really wish I had the answer.. I will just keep trusting that God is in control , no matter what. This is not always easy..
So this is where you’ve been for weeks….I feel so sad for your despair. I’ve been there too. Asking why should I bother making any request of God again when the answer to my most important pleadings is always no. Crushed under the weight of God’s sovereign no, no, no, wondering why he has written my story as one of loss after loss after sad sad loss. Screaming at God “What are you doing?” when my children’s prayers that their daddy would come back were answered by their being forced to be in his wedding to someone else. Beating on God’s chest when my brother died and asking “Why do you get to be called good when anyone else who kills people is called a murderer?”
I agree with you. Jesus is not mad at you when you worry; he is not angry at me when I’m furious with him. But he is probably sad. Sad that we don’t trust that he really does know best. I do get it now. Finally. After instead of blasting me dead for blasphemy he allowed me to struggle this issue through with him for a few years of clinical depression. And now I embrace his sovereignty with my whole being. I don’t want to be the one who holds the keys to anyone’s life or death or destiny. It is such a sweet comfort to just rest….and to know that he is God and he is good. To each of us, not just to those whose lives look charmed. His goodness to me is entirely unique to me, and yes, it includes a lot of loss — and a lot of his being there for me during that loss. And it’s OK.
Please keep writing as you struggle this through. I love that you don’t try to hide behind what a former pastor should say. Your words are unfailingly true to life. And we need truth to guide us to a meaningful relationship to the one who is Truth.
Nice to have you return brother and share of your heart so wonderfully nad beautifully.
Matt there is something to be said about wrestling with God. I know Ihave had my own moments wrestling with him. One of the hardest was as my hearing was fading till where the strongest of hearing aids could no longer allow me to clearly communicate with my wife, forget my children that had disappeared years ago. Feeling more and more shut in, feeling no hope and feeling like God was determined to cast me in a deep pit of silence.
Many nights sleep lost wondering why and wrestling with what are you doing? To make matters worse I was leading a ministry team whose voices I could not hear but the ministry was being blessed and could read of the work it was doing but could not hear the emotion and the passion in the voices of those serving. This made it harder because questions arise of God “don’t you really want me to be blessed by what is happening?” Another question which is just as haunting “Am I not doing what you want me to do, what’s up here?”
However after a cochlear implant he answered but it was that night of deep anquish in which new insights were born. As is often during the nights of deep anquish. Yet, I fear that often my desire to be a fortune telling God far outweights my need for me to “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.””
Thanks Matt for speaking from the heart this morning may we never minmilize those times that God allows us to question tomorrow.
Matt, we don’t ‘know’ each other, but you’ve been on my heart recently as I haven’t ‘heard’ from you. Then this. Wow. Your writing is spectacular. I sit with you on that red plastic Adirondack chair. I feel what you’re feeling. Because you have written it all so eloquently and because I’ve feared those same things.
Thank you for all of it!
I can especially relate to what you said towards the end about what other people say. I have had so many encounters with Job’s friends who bring no comfort, only added burdens of guilt and shame and despair to what already feels like unbearable pain and grief.
I like how Jeremiah Burroughs points out that Christian contentment is not denying that a cross is a cross and “is not opposed to making in an orderly manner our moan and complaint to God and to our friends.” Thank you for sharing your heart and your pain. It helps to know we are not alone, those of us who are so acutely aware that the Lord who gives also takes away, and who can barely get out the “Blessed be the Name of the Lord” through our tears.
I think this blog post http://www.rabbitroom.com/2010/02/brennan-manning-and-the-dun-cow/
does a wonderful job of pointing to a story in literature that masterfully describes how God can truly grieve along side us as we suffer.
” Chauntecleer watched his own desolation appear in the brown eyes of the Cow, then sink so deeply into them that she shuddered. Her eyes pooled as she looked at him. The tears rose and spilled over. And then she was weeping even as he had wept a few minutes ago – except without the anger. Strangely, Chauntecleer felt an urge to comfort her; but at this moment he was no Lord, and the initiative was not in him. A simple creature only, he watched – felt –the miracle take place. Nothing changed: The clouds would not be removed, nor his knowledge plenished. But there was this. His grief had become her grief, his sorrow her own. And though he grieved not one bit less for that, yet his heart made room for her, for her will and wisdom, and he bore the sorrow better. ”
There is a podcast that explores this more : http://www.rabbitroom.com/podcast/episode-41-tales-of-the-fall-part-2/