Devotion: Letting go of Worry

July 16, 2020

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you drink, of about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap not gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?  ...Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘what will we wear?’ But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:25-27, 31, 33

Speaking of birds of the air, the Artic Tern is one of the more amazing ones. It sets out from the Artic in autumn and migrates down along the Pacific coast of the Americas to make its summer home in Antarctica. Then in the spring it travels all the way back to the Artic to make another summer home there. They travel about 50,000 miles in one year along a convoluted route at about 28 mph, and since they live for decades they travel about 1.8 million miles per lifetime, much of it over open sea. In 1970, an Artic tern trapped alive in Maine had a leg band showing it was 34 years old. It weighed 4½ ounces! What does this bird need to pack for its journey? Nothing of course!

Jesus was telling his disciples to live life baggage free. Following this itinerant rabbi all around Galilee, they certainly must have worried where they would find their next meal and how they would replace their clothes when they wore out. They weren’t concerned about the latest styles – they just wanted to make sure they had something to wear. But they had no baggage except the worrying in their mind. Worrying is like carrying around a load of baggage. It weighs you down and not only doesn’t add a single span to your life, but may also take spans off your life.

Worrying is not a productive use of time and it can wear you out. Jesus gave the disciples some images to ponder, one of which was the freedom of birds. If the Artic Tern spent time fretting what it was going to eat on its 50,000 mile yearly journey, it surely would not fly very far at all.  That is what incessant worrying does to us – it keeps us from flying, it holds us back as Jesus knew would surely happen to the disciples if it got control of them. Sometimes it is very difficult to stop worrying and we may live under the false belief that it helps us to have control over a situation. Instead, it erodes our trust in God to whom we have a hard time relinquishing that control.  It is not that we shouldn’t approach problems with the resources that we have to tackle them – it’s that we also need the serenity to accept the things we cannot change and put those things in God’s hands. The Artic Tern uses its energy to fly. We have a choice how to use our energy. Jesus tells his disciples to use their energy to strive for the Kingdom of God. What does that mean for us? That we strive each day to live in love and faith. That this is the focus for us each day and in living that way, we will find that God fills our needs sometimes in ways we cannot even imagine.  Letting go of worry creates space for hope.

Prayer: O God, when we let go our worries then we create space for you in our lives, yet we find it so difficult to release the heavy baggage we carry. We pray that you change our worry into the freedom of hope so we can strive to live our lives in the Kingdom way that is based in your love. Amen.

Devotion provided by Rev. Susan Roddey, Director of Spiritual Life at Abernethy Laurels