Lilies of the Field

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One of the most beautiful Bible passages, in my opinion, is found in Luke 12.  Jesus has been speaking to his disciples, and much of what he’s telling them is unsettling.  I can imagine that Jesus looked into the frightened, worried eyes of those who were listening.  I imagine that he smiles compassionately, and:

Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.  For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?” (Luke 12:22-26)

I imagine his voice, calm and loving, almost kind of teasing us:  if we can’t even control whether we’ll draw our next breath or whether our heart will beat a few more times, how can we get so wrapped up in trying to control other things in the world?  He continues (verse 27 and following), reminding them and assuring them that as God cares even for the short-lived lilies of the fields in splendor, He cares much for more for His people.  I hear him call them “you of little faith” not as a judgmental scolding, but as a bemused endearment:  a diminutive.  We are just “little faithlings.” And Jesus reminds us:  we don’t have to run after the so-called valuables of this world, because God our Father knows what we need.  “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.”

He continues with another endearment:  “Do not be afraid, little flock….” and reminds us why our priorities matter: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

I have recently been considering the two kinds of provision by God illustrated in this passage.  I read somewhere “God feeds the birds, but he doesn’t deliver seed into their nest!”  The birds have to be as God created them, using the abilities and opportunities that God presents to them.  Doing that they thrive!  God clothes each flower in splendor, true, and it gives pleasure and life to other creatures, although it does not survive for long.  We are blessed with both kinds of gifts.  Every day, every breath is a flower-type gift:  we survive.  But we are also gifted like the wild birds with abilities and opportunities to thrive, to be all that God wants us to be.

God intends your life to be much more than a struggle to make ends meet, so that you just survive like the flower.  God has bigger plans for you than that you just get through life.  You are a unique creation, and God calls you to spread your wings, to use your gifts and to recognize the opportunities He provides for you.  God created you to thrive.