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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Don't Worry, Be Happy

I find it to be a breathtaking gift when small things -- a phrase, a quote, words from a stranger, even a clipping from a news article -- come together and communicate a gentle word that can only be from the Spirit because of the effect they create.

This morning, these two passages came in from different sources:

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, "How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now?" There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. Let's rejoice in the little light we carry and not ask for the great beam that would take all shadows away. Henri Nouwen (go to this link if you want to sign up to receive the daily readings)

Then I turn to scripture, and this is part of today's reading:

Matthew 6
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 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? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Like Elijah in 1 Kings 19, I look for words from God in big, sweeping gestures. Instead, he often beckons with something subtle, to which I need to be always attentive in order to not miss it. He's not playing games with us; he simply will not work according to our own frantic demands and timelines. Do I want to live according to whatever is screaming at me, or focus on those important, constant things that ultimately matter?

Meanwhile, I will rejoice in what is right in front of me: the birth of a daughter to dear friends, the warmth of sun (a priceless commodity right now as much of our country is freezing), a full stomach, a sound mind. I will choose to "be happy," because in Christ, we can do so.

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