Wednesday, March 16, 2011


A good friend wrote this.

It speaks to me on so many levels, and I know it will do the same for you.

Be blessed.

Worry Notes – for The Gallery Church, March 13/11

Matthew Atkinson, © 2011

Jesus said “Don’t worry about what you will eat or drink or wear.” Fair enough. I still have to get up and go to work and use these hands and this mind God gave me. And that can be tough some days. But I try not to worry about whether I’ll have a job tomorrow. Money and chaos slosh across the globe, and we get caught up in it. Yet I work hard and trust that God loves me. I try not to worry about a roof and a plate of food.

I haven’t always been this way. I used to collect worry like my sweater collects dog hair. Where ever I turned some new worry was attached to my mind. A horrible way to live. Now only by the grace of God, I don’t worry as much about money and health. “The Lord is my shepherd.” I have to trust Him.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t worry at all. It’s simply that when I take the focus off my navel, like I think Jesus is telling me, I can look up and see what’s going on around me. And what I see worries me. Is this wrong? What was Jesus talking about when He said “don’t worry”?

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about hungry children.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about battered wives.”

Jesus didn’t say, “Don’t worry about Frida or Jesse or Reuben freezing to death on the streets.”

I do worry about these people. Their faces trouble my dreams. And I not only worry, I weep.

I weep for the child living in fear of a parent.

I weep for the young women, who believe the lies and don’t know that they are beautiful just the way they are.

I weep for the company man, wrung dry and discarded after decades of service.

I weep for the elderly, sitting unvisited, out of sight, out of mind.

I weep that I am able to forget all of this because I am so comfortable.

How did I come to this place, my very own desert? The Spirit has led me out of my comfortable life to this place of tears to learn - something. I fall to my knees, pound my fists on the ground and cry in outrage against the pain I see. The Spirit waits. Laying exhausted after my anguish, a quiet question. A frightening suggestion. I turn away, but the question hangs there. Will I follow Jesus? Into the pain of the world?

Or will I stay here and turn inwards, and let the worry grow, consuming me from the inside, turning my guts to water and my spine to jelly. My mind fixated and my eyes darkened until all I see is unending bleakness instead of eternal goodness. No, I can’t put down roots in this desert; I will wither and die.

The path does not end here.

Or will I return to my old life, and numb myself with busyness and trivia and sandcastles and television and life on the hamster wheel, and with religious talk and a couple of bucks thrown in the plate?

Then what would I be? A numb, uncaring religious guy. Didn’t Jesus make it clear what he thought of that?

No, the path does not lead back either.

And the question still hangs in front of me. Can I trust Jesus enough to follow him into the pain of the world? Can I wrap the worry and tears and pain in prayer, and carry them with me? I try: worry in the embrace of prayer hurts, but it enlarges my heart, making a sanctuary for others. The peace of God descends but only to the extent that I try to live out what I ask God to do. This is where the Spirit is leading me. This is the path out of my desert.

So I move forward into the world of blood and tears, of pain and joy and redemption, of light breaking into darkness. While I take these hesitant steps, please don’t give me greeting-card theology; it will only distract me from the words of Jesus.

I know that there will be a day when all the tears will be wiped away, and there will be no more pain, sorrow and death. Yes, I hold that treasure in my soul. But today, there is pain. And choosing neither numbness nor despair, I act. But I must act with love. If I help you without loving you, these hands become tools of manipulation and that can do violence to the soul. How can these hands be made safe?

At first, fists clenched in anger, these hands are now prepared by clasping in prayer. These palms are cleansed by the sweat I wipe from your brow. (Reaching out …) these fingertips are baptized by the tears I wipe from your cheek.

This is the path. I can’t go back.

1 comment:

Rebecca Charlene said...

Thank you for sending this to me, friend.