“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)
I grew up in rural northeastern North Carolina. Some of you may have grown up in rural America — but believe me when I say, I grew up in TRUE rural America. My gracious, my hometown is not even a town — it’s a spot in the road. Potecasi is probably not even on your map.
I grew up in the 1960’s and farming methods were just beginning to modernize as I was a child. I remember seeing people pick cotton by hand. I always wanted to do that, but I wasn’t big enough and by the time I was, they had mechanical cotton pickers. The people who actually picked cotton by hand always told me that I didn’t really want to pick cotton — it wasn’t as “fun” as I thought.
You know what I miss most about my childhood? The smell of freshly dug peanuts. Every year about this time, I can distinctly remember that smell. I barely remember — but I do remember when people dug peanuts by hand and “stacked” them. Later on, there were peanut pickers — but the
smell was the same.
“Great, Pastor. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. How in the world is this supposed to help me SPIRITUALLY?”
Hang on there Chester. I’m getting to that.
When I study the New Testament — especially the teachings of Jesus — I find a grand simplicity about Jesus’ life. He lived close to nature and He loved it. I think Jesus was a country boy! Jesus found His teaching in the clusters of grapes on the vine, the growing of corn and the rising and setting of the sun. He used nature to express great truths about His Father. He talked about birds and sheep and figs.
I’m afraid all you “city folks” don’t fully understand just how wonderful God’s creation is. Because of street lights and highways and car lights — it’s more difficult to see and appreciate the fact that nature reveals God to us. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The fact that 80% or more of the people in our society live in the city means that the symbolism of lilies, sparrows, grass and vines sometime don’t make much sense.
Let me quickly explain the verse today.
Jesus is NOT teaching that you don’t have to be concerned about anything because it will all work out. He is not promising a trouble-free road. He is not saying to those of us who trust God that we will never be injured or persecuted.
He IS saying that we should not be ANXIOUS about life. The word “anxious” means “to choke.” If you choke, your food won’t go up or down. How many people do you and I know who live life all choked up by their problems? Five times in the larger passage Jesus says, “Don’t be anxious. Since God provides for the birds and flowers — He will surely take care of His children who are made in His own image.”
Jesus reminds us that even as beautiful as the flowers are — they are not permanent. The lesson? Whether you live in the city or in the country, death is still a reality. And if we can trust God to care for us in THIS life — how much more will He take care of us and provide for us in the life to come? The glory of the Christian life is the glory of immortality. We WILL live forever, and one day — all the injustice and inequality and the mystery of life will fade away and we will finally understand the meaning of it all.
I believe when we finally understand it, we will understand that our lives were meant to glorify the God who made us. Why wait? Psalm 103:1 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and al that is within me, bless His holy name.” Do it now! In the same way that God provides for the flowers, birds and even the peanuts in eastern North Carolina — He provides for you and me.
Just let God be God — and you spend your time giving Him glory and praise! Stop and smell the freshly dug peanuts and thank God for taking care of you.
Have a great day.