May 14, 2007

€œLife Is So Daily€?
by Pastor George Van Alstine

That’s a clever way of expressing the significance of all the little routines that make up the fabric of our existence. We need to see the big picture, have goals and dreams. But we also need to come back to earth and do the simple things that take up most of our time and attention.

Jesus taught that we shouldn’t worry about the future, but should be like the birds of the air that just trust their Creator to take care of them (Matthew 6:26). At least, that’s how it appears. The truth is more complex.

Go through a day in a bird’s life. At the first light of dawn, there’s a song from another bird in a nearby tree. Beautiful music? No, it’s a challenge for territory. It must be answered with a song that’s just as loud and robust. And so begins this day’s battle of the songs which will require so much energy until nightfall.

And then, of course, the early bird gets the worm. You have to be early so the worms don’t have time to retreat to their daytime shelter underground. It’s a matter of survival. This breakfast-worm is only the beginning; the rest of the day is involved in a frantic search for enough bugs and seeds to keep up with a high-paced metabolism.

So Jesus did not ask us to be like birds in that they have a free and easy life, because their life is really not at all free and easy. Their life is, in truth, a daily challenge. He asks us to approach our own lives in the same way, making the best of each moment given to us by the Creator.

It’s interesting that this section of Jesus’ teaching ends with a proverbial saying (verse 34), which in the familiar King James’ Version is translated,
“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.â€?
The New Revised Standard Version puts it more simply as,
“Today’s trouble is enough for today.â€?
That’s what the bird says at the end of the day, as he tucks his head under his wing on his nighttime roost-branch.

Just watching this bird for fifteen minutes will make you tired. God does, indeed, take care of him, but only by giving him the strength, energy and skills to take care of himself. Using every minute in active pursuit of life’s necessities, the bird makes it through another day—barely.

Our bird friend has no time for leisure, for TV in the evening, for refreshing vacations. And here’s another thing that he has no time for—worrying! There’s no planning for tomorrow or wondering what the cat has up her sleeve. One day’s survival has been accomplished, and roosting on his familiar tree branch is not so much a pleasure as a necessity.

This is how the Lord wants us to be? Well, thankfully societal organization and modern technology have made it a lot easier to survive. We may do all that is necessary to guarantee food and shelter in a few hours, leaving the rest of the day for relationships, mental stimulation, creative expression, leisure activity, and — worry! Yes, it’s amazing that we invest so much of the extra time and energy and resources we have as humans to worrying about how we can keep all that we have and how we can possibly even gain more.

Jesus is asking us to adopt the bird philosophy: Today’s troubles have been enough for my little mind; I’ll let the Lord worry about tomorrow.