Friday, May 18, 2012

The Sparrow

Now that the weather has taken a turn for the better, I typically wake up to one of two sounds in the morning.  Some mornings I am slapped out of my slumber by the rumble of mower decks and weed-wackers as the grounds crew attends to the grass.  But on others, the much more pleasant sound of birds chirping provides me with a natural alarm clock.

Last week (on a day that was not mowing day), I woke up to the birds and rolled over to lay in bed for a few more moments.  As I slowly regained consciousness, I laid there for a bit and thought about those birds.  How do they decide where to build a nest?  How do they know where to go get food?  What do they do during a hard rain?  All of these questions revolved the basic necessities of life, and I made up my own answers as a completely uneducated ornithologist.  However far off I may have been, my mind quickly went to a passage in Matthew 6:25-33...

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  And why are you anxious about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not be anxious, saying 'What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?" or "What shall we wear?"  for the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  

Even though I am a bit scatter-brained at times, there was a point to my bird pondering so early in the morning.  You see, the topic of fundraising was on my mind and had been for some time.  It is usually one of the biggest sources of anxiety and worry in my life.  But on this morning, things were different.  I had recently been blessed by several donors who had come alongside me to help meet my budget goals for the upcoming year.  I had been "fed," just like the birds of the air.

I've heard my fair share of sermons on this passage before, and the message is pretty straight forward: don't worry because God will give you what you need (not necessarily what you want), if you seek His kingdom first.  And I agree.  But through this process of fundraising, I have also had to come to grips with another element of this passage: the time component.  "When" will God give me what I need?  Think about the birds again.  God the Creator causes the right worms to crawl up to the surface of the ground at the right time, so that the right bird can gobble it up.  He does the same thing with the seeds and anything else they consume.  He orchestrates that they would have what they need in the right place and the right time.  He could just as easily give them a big cup full of night crawlers like we buy at the bait and tackle shop and say "Here's your portion for the week."  But He doesn't.  Why?

Because there is no dependency in that.

God is constantly moving us towards a place of increased dependency.  I wanted to have a full year's worth of funding in place months ago and He could have done it without batting an eye.  My mind wouldn't be at ease until I had stocked the barn completely, but it didn't go that way.  The funds came in slowly, check by check, but it was not until I was a month away from moving to Philly that the funds were finally in place.  Each and every donation was a reminder that He was providing the way for me to accomplish this enormous task.  His provision was completely sufficient and His timing was impeccable.  

I suppose it is unrealistic to think that human beings will never be completely rid of worry or anxiety about life's demands, but we can never forget that our "heavenly Father knows that you need them all."  He made you and he knows what you need...

And when you need it.  

Humbled yet again,


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