by Laurie Gudim
I’ve always been a little naive. It has never occurred to me not to take this passage about lilies and birds seriously. And fortunately my partner feels the same way.
Even so, I have spent most of my adult life rationaling my failure to follow this simple teaching, this “do not worry, for God will take care of you” bit. “That works fine in religious community,” I have said to Jesus in my mind. “It was great for First Century Christians, who threw all their possessions into the same pot and lived together, making sure everybody had enough. And in the monasteries, too, where people pitched in and shared everything equally. It works there. But things are a little more complex for me and mine, and surely you want a bit more critical thinking on the issue? Not to do so is irresponsible, isn’t it?”
God has happily wrestled with me – employing God’s endless array of headlocks. And bit by incremental bit I have come to see that, at base, it really is that simple: God will take care of us.
That doesn’t mean God will make us rich or keep us from disastrous choices. And I am still learning how much is enough. How many pairs of shoes do I need? How many square feet in my house? Even more difficult is how many bright colored markers and pieces of creamy watercolor paper must I really have?
At a very fundamental level, I am learning to share. If I don’t have enough money to pay the mortgage, oughtn’t I to hoard my cash? And yet, here I am at the grocery store and the woman in front of me is having to set aside some of what is in her basket because she can’t afford it. It is clear that in this instance I am supposed to be a conduit for God’s abundance.
But I think at the heart of the issue is a more basic consideration. Orienting my life around the struggle to make a decent living really is worshiping the wrong deity. How can I follow the Way of Jesus if my first priority is keeping myself in food and clothing? That relegates considerations of love and service to the when-I-have-time category. “I’ll worship and serve you when I have a minute,” I say to God. “But first I have to make sure I have all the financial bases covered. I can’t do (blank) because it will put me in the poor house.”
In those moments when I am not worrying about being clothed and fed I am freed from most of my fears. I am loosed to be connected with all those humans around the globe who are struggling. But more importantly I am connected to the abundant Creator. And I am available foremost to Christ, who dwells at the center of my being, for whatever might be needed of me.
Laurie Gudim is a writer and religious iconographer who lives in Fort Collins, CO. You can view some of her work at Everyday Mysteries.
Image: photo by Ann Fontaine ©