Grace, mercy, and peace be
unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
No matter how hard you try,
no matter how disciplined you may be, you cannot stop, even though you
and I would love to at times, you and I cannot stop anxiety from welling
up within us. We can’t stop the feeling we classify as worry from gurgling
up from within us, seemingly out of nowhere.
We cannot stop from being overwhelmed
at times by things. These feelings or emotions are common to us all
for we are sinful people living in a sinful world. Those things that
come upon us, we can’t even control at times, but we can choose to do
something with them of a beneficial nature.
This is not a new concept.
Jesus gave this idea, obviously, to Paul. Paul wrote about it to the
Philippians when he said, “Be angry, but do not sin.” Jesus
in the gospel reading affirms and even talks to the very aspects of
feelings of worry, anxiety, and overwhelmedness. He does not say, “Stop
thinking those thoughts.” That’s like telling the sun not to shine
or those crickets we hear to not chirp. It’s impossible.
God does address worry and
anxiety and overwhelmedness. Our loving Shepherd acknowledges them,
but then addresses them by saying, “Don’t be anxious about your
life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. Which
of you by being anxious can add even a single hour to his life? Do not
seek what you are to eat or what you are to drink, nor be worried.”
Well He says not to do those
things, but what He really is saying is, “Don’t act upon those
fears.” He uses things around us to remind us of His great care.
He talks about in here, “Consider the ravens, they neither sow
nor reap. They have no storehouse, nor barn, yet God feeds these ravens.
Of how much more value are you than the birds?”
Now I hope you notice, and
I’m sure you can’t get away from noticing it, sweeping out your garage
or your front porch, the vast number of (what we’re hearing right now)
crickets, everywhere. Now it seems in this part of Texas at this time
of the year there is a plethora of them.
Now I hope you also, with your
astute eyes can look around you and notice something else that is going
on while all of these crickets are hither and yon. There are a bunch
of black birds known as starlings and grackles. Grackles are the ones
with the long tails. Starlings are the ugly ones with the short tail
and the yellow beak, usually. If you’ve heard or seen them, all of their
chicks, which are not quite ready to feed themselves, are squawking
to their mother to feed them.
What does she choose? Why,
she like all the other great mothers of these birds chooses these crickets
that God has given them to feed their young. Now God knows how stupid
these birds are. He created them. He knows there is no way they can
wisely ensure every one of those crickets are fed to their chicks, so
He allows those crickets to proliferate beyond what those birds need
in order to make sure they’re fed.
Then not only that, He knows
they can’t possibly eat them all, so He allows them to proliferate so
much so that this whole cycle will perpetuate itself again next year.
We’ll see it all transpire before our very eyes.
Let it not be lost on us, if
that is how God, in a very seemingly simplistic way, feeds creatures
that do not have a soul and which will not be continued on for eternity,
will He not much more care for you, to whom He imparted His Spirit,
for whom He died upon the accursed tree?
In this text, Jesus does not
say to walk by faith without these feelings. In this text He is very
clear that in the midst of fear, and anxiety and overwhelmedness, walk
and live by faith. In the latter part of this text He says to be ready.
We’re all about preparedness like scouts, making sure things are taken
care of before we venture into something of which we’re not sure of
God is saying, “Jump,
even when you don’t know.” Even when your heart and flesh is crying
out, “But… But… But…” He says, “Trust Me, I will
lead you.” If you and I wait until we feel everything is ready
for us to step forward and move, that’s probably the time we shouldn’t
be stepping forward and moving.
In fact, it’s probably the
opposite. When we feel the most fearful, we are to walk by faith. When
we feel the most overwhelmed, we are to continue to move forward. He
says, “Oh you of little faith.” He is really saying, “Where
is your faith? I know you have these feelings. I’m acknowledging them
by addressing them. I know you feel overwhelmed and worried and all
kinds of anxiety, but I’ve been pleased and thrilled to give you the
kingdom. You have the kingdom.”
Then the writer of the Hebrews
gives us some beautiful examples of some faithful men and women, and
one of those is Noah. We know not how long it must have taken him to
build the ark. You know there were times when he would get up in the
morning and think, Why am I doing this? There is nothing I can see
that says there is going to be a flood. I’m nowhere near a large body
of water, mind you.
Yet every day he encourages
himself and his wife and his sons and his daughter-in-laws to pick up
the mallet and to continue to pound away and shave those pieces of wood
into an ark because they’re working for something, as the text says,
that cannot be seen. By faith, Noah, warned by God concerning events
as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of
By the construction of this
ark, he condemned the world and its view that all that matters is this
world and became an heir of righteousness that comes by faith. Look
around you. This is your ark. This is your ark. Whether this building
is that we’re gathered in, or outside in a field, this is the ark of
the church, the gathered believers.
Every time we gather, we’re
saying to the world, “This world is not all that is to be seen,
nor to be worked for. There is something beyond what we perceive with
our eyes, and our ears and our mind. That is for which we continue to
invest ourselves…our time, our emotions, our energies, and even our
For the extension and the continued
outward reaching of this kingdom, we are like Noah. In the midst of
fears and anxieties of whether this really is right, whether we really
should do this or not, whether it’s saying yes or no, whatever God is
pushing us…step forward. Remember, we can’t stop the feelings, but
we can stop with what we do with those feelings.
When He says, “Don’t be
afraid My little lambs, My little flock, fear not, I have given you
the kingdom, and not just without pleasure, but with great pleasure
and thrill do I give you the kingdom.” You are gathered here in
Noah’s ark for the continued strengthening of that gift to you, that
whenever you go back out and live among the world that sees things not
with the same concept and eyes you do, you are strengthened in the midst
of this dead and damned world. Here’s where God gives you His kingdom,
enabling you to go back out and step forward in faith when everything
screams fear and worry and anxiety.
He says, “Seek the One
who serves you.” Now that seems kind of odd. You and I seek someone
who we can be their servant, who has far more wisdom and ability than
we, and God completely takes that notion and turns it upside down, and
says, “Seek Me, helpless as you are, that I may serve you in your
worried spirit, in the midst of your anxiety and overwhelmedness, serve
you, bolstering your faith and strength.”
If you wait until you’re ready,
you’ll never be ready. Yet Jesus says, “You also must be ready.”
You are ready. You’ve received the kingdom. You are ready.
You received the kingdom. God did not wait until Noah thought he was
ready to build the ark, God said, “Build the ark.” God waited
until Abraham and Sarah were beyond the possibility of their concept
to grab hold of the ability to begat and sire a child so they would
then live and walk by faith.
You and I will never stop the
feelings of anxiety from entering into our existence as God’s lamb.
We will never squelch the anxiety of our fears and overwhelmedness,
but God has, here in this place, bolstered you so you do act upon those
fears in a godly manner.
Hear again what the prophet
who wrote to the Hebrews said, “All of these people who struggled
just like you and me, died in faith not having received the things promised,”
just like us. “But having seen them and greeted them from afar
by faith, and having acknowledged that you and I, like they, are strangers
and exiles in this world, this is not our home. Heaven is our home.”
For people who speak thus make
it clear that they’re seeking a homeland different than this. If they
had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would
have an opportunity to return. We’re not going to return to this. This
will all be annihilated and completely obliterated.
As it is, you and I desire
a better country, a heavenly one. Therefore in the midst of our worriedness
and anxiety and fears, in the midst of all of that, God is still, as
the text says, not ashamed to be called your God because He has been
pleased to give you the kingdom. God be praised for such a God who serves
us in the midst of all of those fears and says, “Go on now.”
“But I’m scared, Daddy.” “Go on. I will never forsake
you, nor leave you.” In Jesus’ name, Amen.