Slow Down

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore, I say to you, don’t worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. There is more to life than food and more to the body than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither plant nor harvest, they have no silo or barn, yet God feeds them. You are worth so much more than birds! Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life? If you can’t do such a small thing, why worry about the rest?” -Luke 12:22-26

A week ago, I asked a group of elementary schoolers if they knew what holiday was coming up at the end of this month.

“CHRISTMAS!”

That’s not until the next month, I said. This month is November, and at the end of November, we celebrate Thanksgiving. We talked a little about the people for whom we’re thankful, but the start of the conversation stuck with me.

How often do you brush right past Now in favor of Next? Or, to put it another way, how much time do you spend worrying and planning for the future instead of living each day as it happens? We do this all throughout our lives: little kids want to be big enough to go to school, big kids want to be old enough to graduate, college students want to find a job and move out, parents of little kids want them to sleep through the night, middle aged adults want to save up for retirement, folks in retirement look forward to their next trip or family gathering, and hardly any of us manage to just be present in the present.

The people I know who are best at being present are people for whom the future has been uncertain. They’re the people living paycheck to paycheck who don’t see why they should bother about a future that might go wrong anyway. They’re the ones who have faced disease and known that each day might be their last. They’re the ones who have lived through turmoil, at home or in war or any other way, knowing that tomorrow is shaky, at best.

And you know what? They are, by and large, so willing to accept it. Not in a resigned sort of way. It’s a peaceful acceptance, the kind that only comes when you trust that the One who has power over your life loves you. It’s the acceptance that you don’t have control, but you trust God’s promise to be with you and care for you anyway. In fact, all the ways that we lose control over our lives can be reminders that when we worry and trust ourselves over God, we’re trying to take on a responsibility that’s not ours.

Instead, we can trust God to be God. We can let ourselves just be human. When we stop trying to catch up to what’s next, when we put our attention on what’s happening right now, we are trusting God to take care of the future. We are listening to Jesus telling the disciples not to worry about things they cannot control. We’re living in the present, in the right-now gift God has given us, and trusting God for everything else.

God, help me keep my focus on the present instead of the future. Let me trust you in all things. Teach me to worry less and trust more. Amen.

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