Letting Go

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? 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. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? – Matthew 6:25-27

What would it look like to really have confidence in Jesus’ promise that God watches over us, providing for our needs? Nowhere in the scriptural witness is there any indication that we need to justify our own existence. The whole of the cosmos, down to my silly little life, is a pure gift. Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks – and God’s heart is nothing if not abundant. The word of the Lord is joy and peace and fullness of life. The Spirit blows where it will; and the trees grow.

Yet how often I try to control the flow of this everlasting life! I constantly reveal how little I trust God, seething with anxiety about the future. When God provides me what I need for today, I cannot help asking, “but what about tomorrow?” I am like the Hebrew children who wasted their time and energy gathering up extra manna only to see it rot the next day. God’s gifts are not meant for hoarding. Love is for sharing. Right now.

More often than I would care to admit, I am like those that Jeremiah railed against, who trusted in their own anxious ways rather than in God’s selfless giving. Instead of putting my faith in the spring of living water, I build my own broken cisterns that cannot hold water. I fool myself into believing that I can make myself secure by saving up enough of God’s goodness so that I will never have to be vulnerable again. Jesus tells me to wait on the Lord day by day for the things I need – but I want guarantees!

Jesus does not give guarantees, but he does make promises. Long ago, he promised that he would be with us always, even to the end of the age. He teaches us to forgive our debtors and trust in his Father to provide for our daily needs. His word is one of radical trust and generosity. I have seen the way Jesus fulfills his promise in my own life, and in the lives of others. He walks with us, guides us and cares for our needs. Why is it so hard to trust this?

One stumbling block is my own future orientation. His promise is here now, but I want to know what is going to happen six months from now, a decade from now. Seriously, Jesus: What does your retirement plan look like? I want details.

The root of my refusal to trust in God’s abundant love and care is my own need to control. Truth be told, I want more than my daily bread. I want barns and cisterns – insurance and retirement plans. I want to feel like I am in charge of my life. I want to be the one behind the wheel.

But control is overrated. Who really wants to control the sunrise? Who would dictate the laughter of a child? What would we gain if we could control the autumn leaves and the mysterious power of human love? When we encounter real beauty, when we stand in awe, caught up in connection with the whole of God’s creation, the need for control falls away.
What if I could allow myself to encounter life as one long sunrise? To receive each moment as a precious, inexplicable gift? How might my life be different if my primary experience were awe and wonder? How cheap and petty my need for control would seem then!