Posted by: mikenicholsblog | January 3, 2011

an enduring request

It was one of the most unusual requests I have ever received. In October of 2007, I had the opportunity to participate in the funeral of a dear friend. Her faith was deep, she was ready to meet her Lord and she was firm on the passage of Scripture to be read at her service. Her request was not unusual, but the passage was. It was her desire for those at her service to hear the most familiar passage in the Bible on worry. I pondered why that would be her choice, and admittedly I was a bit confused. Her desired passage has great value as we start the New Year, and was a wise choice at her celebration service.

It is now the third day of your new year. Have you worried yet? Has work been on your thoughts even during the holidays? Could it be that you have financial concerns, family struggles etc…? Frankly, there will always be plenty to worry about. None of us will be exempt from the circumstances of life that try to steal our joy and occupy our minds. God already knows what those circumstances will be. And He is not shy about giving us counsel on worry. His opinion for all Christ followers is this: don’t do it! Is it possible to live out God’s design? Yes, but can it really happen for you?

Worry can be conquered (even for you), but most people don’t live like they believe it. It is seemingly easier to carry our burdens than to release them to our all-sufficient Lord. His strong words on worry in Matthew chapter six are the words my friend wanted me to read. You have probably read them yourself, or at least heard them read. To help you gain fresh perspective on what God wants for you, below you will find part of this pertinent passage taken from the Message.

Matthew 6:30-34 (MSG)
If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers-most of which are never seen-don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep yourself in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Even when it seems that our world is falling apart around us, the principles in the above passage give us hope. It is not our role to figure out how God will do His best for us, but to believe that He will. I am convinced that if we don’t steep ourselves in God-reality, God-initiatives and God’s provisions, we will struggle to overcome those issues that tend to steal our joy and occupy our minds. But today is a new day, God’s Word is true and we can live life His way.

Could it be that my friend was not giving me an unusual request, but great counsel? She was finishing her earthly journey, and had raised three daughters that loved God and had married Christ followers. Maybe she wanted all who would gather and celebrate her life to realize that all the stuff that weighs us down is not what really matters.

While I may still have questions as to why my friend had me read a passage on worry at her memorial service, the impact of her request endures.  And, I believe, has special significance in all our lives as we begin a new year.  “… Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.

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