Lilies of the Field
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.” Matthew 6v.28 (NIV)
I call myself a Christian. It is an accurate enough way to tell someone in a nutshell what my beliefs are. However, I would actually prefer to use a different term, although I’m not too sure what that would be. Just something without the bad connotations that I like to avoid. ‘Christian’ is too closely associated with words like narrow-minded, arrogant, out of touch, intolerant, even hateful. I like to think that I am none of those things, although for honesty’s sake I must admit that I am all of those things at times, more than I would like if I’m really honest. But the truth is that I do feel deeply respectful of other people’s beliefs and worldviews, and feel that I can do that without feeling a need to compromise my own. So this is some of what I believe: I believe in a God who created the Universe and is continually involved in it and in our lives. Although there are hard questions involved in this, it is pure joy to me to think about this God, who says about himself that he is love. I find it quite amazing that our universe was brought forth by love and is still infused with love, even in its brokenness.
I like to involve both my heart and mind in my faith. One of my favorite writers is Philip Yancey, who isn’t afraid to explore the hard questions concerning faith and presents beautifully nuanced answers to each tough question. The kind of nuance that can be sorely lacking in Christian teaching. At the moment, I am delving into Jesus’ life with Yancey’s book The Jesus I never Knew. I’m only on page 23, and already this book is stirring my heart and soul. The other night, I was reading Yancey’s description of how teaching classes about the life of Jesus brought him to see Jesus’ humanity more than he had before. It is easy when reading the Bible, or being in church, to focus Jesus’ words and teachings. But what was it really like to BE Jesus? And what was it like to be in his audience? Yancey writes that he started to realize how deeply Jesus was affected by those around him. And I let my mind wander as I was reading this. What would it be like to really listen to Jesus for the first time?
The verse that I quoted above popped into my mind. I like the verse. It talks about flowers. It seems poetic. However, it is also slightly problematic to me. Not worry about what I will wear? Really?? But I like clothes…And I need clothes. And sometimes I do worry that I don’t have the money that I’d like to spend on clothes. At times like this, I think it’s best and easiest just to be straight with God. So I started expressing some of my feelings around this. You know, how it’s all nice and easy for God to say that I don’t need to worry about clothes. But it’s just different when you live in heaven. Which as of yet, I don’t. It’s not that I’m trying to get sassy with God, I just find that when I’m honest, I get the best answers.
Then I thought about the post I wrote a few days ago on conspicuous consumption and how looking at a bunch of daffodils made me feel so alive and complete in the moment, like I didn’t need anything else than just that beauty in that moment. And it hit me that most likely Jesus’ words were not meant to be constricting, telling me “Don’t worry, or else!” But instead, they are meant to be expansive…”look around you, look at the beauty that is already there. Enjoy it for all it’s worth. Remember that I am the Creator and I am the One Who is suffusing this world with beauty and love and that includes You and your life. Relax. Rest in me.”
Not that I literally heard God say this, but this is sort of what I felt I picked up, like a whisper in my soul. And can I tell you something, I cried. I cried with gratitude, real tears. And even though it is something I don’t easily share, I love those moments when something touches me out of the blue and I feel deeply alive to the beauty and possibility in this world. And the God whispers in the night.