Mothers for Prodigals

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Boys and girls enter the classroom and settle in the chairs around the table. The third-graders are excited to see each other once a week at Sunday School as they don’t all attend the same elementary school. The teacher begins the hour bowing her head in prayer and the children follow her lead. As she concludes with an AMEN, she asks, “Who would like to read our Scripture lesson for today?” One little girl’s hand shot up. “Thank you, Debbie. Would you read Matthew 6:25-34?” the Sunday School teacher said. Debbie walks to the front of the class carrying the Bible her grandmother gave her and begins reading the verses. The words resonate within her soul.

"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.
"Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV)

I remember reading that Bible passage even though 40ish years have passed. Vaguely do I recall the setting, but the words of Scripture remained in my memory. Every time I read or hear the words, I’m taken back to a Sunday School room in a church in North Carolina. Those words from Matthew awaken images, memories, and emotions within me; they truly resonate within my soul. I believe God knew that I would need to learn the lesson from that passage over and over again.

Jesus taught these words to a large group of followers during His Sermon on the Mount. I’m sure many people needed to hear and understand His words just as we do today. Repeatedly Jesus instructs His listeners not to worry. Meditate on those words from different versions of Scripture:

NIV, NASB, NKJV - do not worry
The Message - don’t fuss
KJV - take no thought
ESV, YLT - do not be anxious

Recently I listened as this Scripture was read at a Bible study and I continually heard the words “do not worry.” Instead of the word ‘worry,’ I sensed the word ‘striving’ and visualized a struggle. Read the synonyms of strive: try (hard), attempt, endeavor, aim, venture, make an effort, exert oneself, do one's best, do all one can, do one's utmost, labor, work; struggle, fight, battle, combat; campaign, crusade.

What are we striving for or against and why? Do we want a better job or a bigger house? Are we unhappy because our spouse doesn’t meet all our needs? Are we disappointed because our children aren’t living like we think they should? Does the future alarm us or death fill us with fear? Are we so worried about tomorrow that we fail to live for today? Now that is striving and it depletes our energy physically, mentally, and emotionally. Our demeanor negatively changes and we become discouraging instead of encouraging.

God’s heart must truly be saddened by our striving. He has some choice words to declare to us about our struggle. He says in Psalm 46:10, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” I felt drawn to this specific verse as I labored in vain this week. I opened my New American Standard Bible, turned to Psalm 46:10, and heard this command from the Lord, “Cease striving and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Cease striving? Really? Is that what being still is all about? Obviously God used two Scripture passages to speak to me this week and He said, “DO NOT WORRY; CEASE STRIVING!” Debbie needs to continue reading God’s Word until it undoubtedly resonates within her soul.

Are you striving for or against something? Reread Matthew 6:25-34 and let go of your worry. Read all of Psalm 46 and place your complete trust in Jesus. Make Him your shelter and fortress. From the powerful words in Psalm 46, Martin Luther wrote the formidable song “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” Locate a copy of that hymn, sing it to the Lord, and allow it to resonate within your soul. If your heart truly trusts in Jesus, then your striving wiil cease, and you will KNOW that He is God over all things!

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