A Father Who Loves Us
By S.J. Black
This past weekend I was busy with the task of keeping our children busy while my wife ran some of the errands that we do not have time to take care of during the week.
The boys love to play sports like baseball, basketball, soccer and so forth. At four years old they are not exactly going to enter professional sports anytime soon but they sure love to play anyway.
The boys have trouble making a basket with a normal size basketball goal so I decided to take them to my old elementary school because the goals there are designed for children in the first through the fourth grade. The baskets on these goals are not much taller than I am.
While we were playing I started thinking that it has been almost thirty years since I started kindergarten at that school. Want to talk about suddenly feeling old? At any rate I attended that particular school for five years starting in kindergarten until I "graduated" from the fourth grade.
After the basketball, we went to the playground to try out the slides and other playground equipment. On the playground are a couple of very large pine trees. The trees are big enough that I cannot put my arms around them so it is my guess they have probably been there a long time…maybe even a couple of hundred years. Realizing this made me think that now my boys are playing under the exact same trees that I played under when I was much younger.
Being one that always has a very active imagination I started daydreaming about what if the trees were alive and could talk? You know like in the cartoons or whatever. Can you imagine that conversation? The trees that were there to watch over me, as a young boy would probably say something like, "hi there old friend, it has been a long time. So happy to watch over you again as you play with these new friends of yours. I hope my shade will keep you from getting too warm today."
Ok, so lets face it…maybe I have too few things on my mind some days so I need something really off the wall to sit and ponder? Or maybe I simply really need to get a life? Obviously trees cannot talk, even though they could likely tell some very interesting stories about the history they have been around for if they could talk.
But then it dawned on me, there was and is someone who watches over me night and day and has been watching over me since before the day I was born. His name is God, specifically the Great "I am", Heavenly Father or if you prefer the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
This realization made me begin to ponder some of those wonderful truths that are shared in the book of Psalms. It is one of my favorite books so of course I had to come home and look up a few of my favorite passages from the book. The trees at the playground specifically reminded me of Psalm 121 but that led to a few other passages:
"I will lift up my eyes to the hills--From whence comes my help? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; The LORD is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The LORD shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth, and even forevermore." Psalm 121
"The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever." Psalm 23
"God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea; Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. Selah" Psalm 46: 1-3
What awesome truths are contained in some of these passages of Scripture! I don't know about you but I praise the Lord that He is watching over me and that He tells us in His word that He will never be asleep at the wheel, so to speak.
The Lord is our guide, our Father, our protector and provider. Knowing this to be true it makes me really wonder…why is it that we spend so much time with worry? Why do we spend so much time trying to do things of our own abilities or power instead of just taking our needs before the Throne and then waiting on the Lord to provide or to show the way we should go?
This is a constant struggle for me and I imagine that many other Christians face this same struggle. However, what I keep coming back to is the fact that the answer is really pretty simple. Either we have faith in the Lord and we believe what His word says or we don't. Sure we all make excuses to justify doing our "own thing" or what seems right to us in a situation and I am just as guilty in this area as anyone else if not more so. But what it really comes down to is that we either trust the Lord and His word or we start making excuses to try and justify in our minds doing what we think is right.
Jesus throughout the Gospels had a lot to say about the topics of worry and seeking God's Kingdom first. Matthew chapter six verses twenty-five through thirty four is another place that I love to read when I am having a "faith crisis" of trusting God or trusting my own wisdom and myself.
In verse twenty-five, Jesus begins the lesson with a command and then a rhetorical question:
"Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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?"
Notice here that Jesus does not suggest we try to give up the worry. He is giving us a command when He states, "do not worry" and Jesus is not saying something such as "it is a good idea not to worry."
Personally, I have always liked some of the things that Jesus uses for the objective examples in His teaching. I always in my mind have a mental picture of Jesus sitting on a grassy hill and just using whatever was near by to teach about a particular lesson at hand. For instance, if Jesus looked up and saw a bird then perhaps He used it as an example to explain what He was trying to teach. It is likely that this was the case here as Jesus explained why we should not worry in verses twenty-six through thirty:
"Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? "So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?"
Another statement Jesus made that is recorded for us later in the book of Matthew reiterates His teaching here in chapter six:
"And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father's will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:28-31)
The bottom line to what Jesus is telling us here is that God is in control of everything. Nothing happens outside of His foreknowledge, even something as seemingly inconsequential as a sparrow falling to the ground. If the very hairs on our head are numbered then it is safe to assume that God knows everything about us, even things we don't know about ourselves. Jesus is also telling us that nothing can happen to us unless God allows it to happen for His good reasons.
Going back to our text in Matthew chapter six, Jesus has just used the example of the lilies of the field to show us why we do not need to worry about what we will wear for clothing. It is at this point that He repeats His command that He gave us at the first part of our text:
"Therefore do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?' or "What shall we drink?' or "What shall we wear?' For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." (Matthew 6:31-34)
I was always told by my professors in college that if they repeat something several times then it is an important point that will be on the final exam. How much more so should we sit up, pay attention and take note when Jesus our Messiah repeats a command as a part of His teaching?
We all worry; no matter how hard we try it happens from time to time. However, my solution to worry is to go back to God's word and to read what Jesus told us about worry. It is also often helpful to go back to the Psalms and realize what a truly awesome and powerful God we serve.
Psalm 46 is a powerful chapter of Scripture if you ever find yourself in a state of worry. The entire Psalm was too long to cut and paste into the article above. However, it is wonderful to always be reminded that God is never far away or as the Psalmist put it as noted above, "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."
Instead of worry or trying "to do something" when we find ourselves in a time of fear, anxiety or worry what we should do is to take to heart that God is in control. We need to remember God's commandment in Psalm 46:10-11:
"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The LORD of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our refuge.Selah"
To that command all one can add is AMEN!