Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Lily Lesson

I was, and am, reminded of Matthew 6. And my guess is the lilies don't spend their days asking for rain.                                                                

                                            –Anna Vaughan, In Medias Res

Often I have pictured Jesus during this Sermon on the Mount. Bible story books have him sitting on a hillside surrounded by a sea of people pressing forward to hear. Yet, when you look closely at the text it says that Jesus’ disciples came to him. And it was them he was teaching. He was teaching the disciples—for sure the Twelve—those who had made a commitment and decided to follow this rabbi from Nazareth.

In this mountainside teaching Jesus tackles a plethora of issues. He instructs about pretension, the letter and spirit of the law, about divorce and adultery, prayer and fasting, narrow and wide gates, trees and fruit and judging others. He talks about treasures and wherever you decide to bank you treasure, wherever you hide it, store it or put it that’s where your heart is going to be. And he cautions that’s where your mind will return over and over and over.

Can’t you see him look around? Can’t you see him look into Matthew’s face? Peer into Andrew’s eyes? Can’t you see him hold Judas’ gaze?

Were the disciples’ heads reeling at this point? Was Nathaniel taking notes? Was anybody?

Jesus is looking around the group seeing who is paying heed to his words. And Jesus points upward toward the birds that are flying in endless spirals and gliding on the wind. “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." And Jesus posed a question that I wonder if anyone knew the answer. Jesus knew the answer, “Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Wind Currents

Seems rhetorical. And yet how many of us would hesitate with the answer? Yes, we know we are more valuable than birds, but are we sure? And then he connects this whole visual with worry.

Birds don’t worry.

They don’t know the old adage the early bird gets the worm. They understand that the worms are plentiful and they will find one.

They just seem to know that the ground is covered with a feast for them.

What prompted me to mull over this passage in Matthew 6 is the quote at the beginning.

Lilies don't spend their day asking for rain.

Lilies don’t worry.

Solomon's Finery
 I hadn’t read the Matthew 6 passage in a long, long time. But when I reread it a phrase caught my attention. Just six words out of Matthew 6. It is here in this passage about not worrying, in this teaching on a mountainside about how to live, those six words arrested me.

They do not labor or spin.

Birds and lilies do not worry.

Quite often I spend my days laboring and spinning—moving from one thing to another. Rarely ever do I finish one thing before I start another. My mind works overtime spinning every possible scenario and every viable detail of a myriad of should do’s and must do’s. My heart tends to spin frizzy slender threads from a worn spindle.

But when I read Anna’s quote about the lilies I remembered.

The lilies don’t have a rain dance. Eventually rain will come whether they ask or not—the rain is not dependent on their asking. The lilies are dependent on the goodness and faithfulness of their Creator.

They don’t labor and spin to win anyone’s approval or attention or favor. And yet they are frocked in finery befitting a king.

My Abba Father, please help me to remember and retain the lily lesson. Enable me to grasp the lesson of the birds and live daily dependent on your relentless faithfulness.

Teach me how to live without the constant laboring and spinning, the endless demand on myself to always be in motion and to continually be striving. Show me how to release all my anxieties to you. Sometimes, Father, I don’t know how to do that, and other times I just can’t remember how. Show me how to live and simply be—to grow right up out of the dirt and blossom, to lift right up into wind currents and soar—in you and your grace. Show me how to live there instead of this continual place of grasping and worry. Let me, help me and enable me to trust that even if I forget to ask you will send rain. Amen

1 comment:

TARSmith said...

And help me to remember, Lord, that even when I fall like that sparrow or fade like the lily, you still love me so much more than birds and flowers

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