The Secret to Abiding in His Grace
We have had a new mother staying with us this month in our guest room. This family has provided a lot of wonder as we have watched her babies come into this world. One amazing thing is the mother, although she was expecting and in transitional housing, has been very independent and apparently worry-free. She hasn’t asked for food and you would hardly know she was there. It captivated us as she seemed to know the secret of abiding in His grace.
This mother is a pigeon. She nested her two eggs over the last month outside our Juliet balcony in our guest room. We have watched her keep them warm and feed them daily. When Jesus was addressing worry he used the image of the bird’s carefree attitude as being one we should adopt as our own.
“Behold the birds of the heaven, that they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; and your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are not ye of much more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit unto the measure of his life?” Matt 6:26-27
Then he talks about the flowers and clothing: “And why are ye anxious concerning raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” Matt 6:28-29
This passage is part of the Gospel reading on Sunday. It’s from Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, and we will be going into more detail about this Scripture at our service. For now, let’s just take the birds and the lilies of the field for what Jesus tells us. They are cared for not just with what they need, but with extravagance. “Solomon was not arrayed like one of these [flowers].” He goes on to say, “But if God doth so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?”
Here is the crux of the matter: Faith. Do we trust that the God of the universe loves us and cares for us? And, that He doesn’t just love us a little, but extravagantly?
In Jesus’ day the basics of life were not a given. The outcast and the poor that Jesus walked with were just a day’s lost wage from hunger, or one theft away from not having a warm robe at night. This is still a reality for so many. We look at the chaos and brokenness of this world, and we know our worries can be very different depending on our location and circumstances. No matter what struggles and worries we face, we all know they are very real to us.
Christiane and I moved here rather quickly. Although we have truly enjoyed being here and getting to know you all, we have dealt with a fair share of stressful situations. We left our beautiful house in Colorado for a rental apartment with major challenges. We have had so many issues with this apartment that it became clear we needed to move again despite our hesitancy to displace ourselves again. In the midst of all this, Christiane has dealt with so much physical pain that this is the last thing she would rather be doing.
Nonetheless, here we are, moving again in a couple of weeks. So, this week I realized God’s sense of humor. I’ve been writing this email and sermon on how God provides for the birds and the flowers, the same week that we settled on a new apartment to move into. For the past couple of weeks, I had been struggling to trust him for our housing situation. I found myself short tempered and irritable that we were having to move two times in just a few months.
Jesus says: “Consider the birds of the heaven”, and then He gives me not one but two winged house-guests on the Juliet balcony. Yes, that’s right, we have had not one but two Pigeon Mamas in the last month or so. Our theory is that the first mama told the second one that we still needed to learn a few things (or maybe it was just a sublet situation…).
We laugh, but the truth is that some of our worries can be faith crushing. Some of us are dealing with loss, a life threatening diagnosis, chronic pain, financial chaos, estranged children or parents. The list goes on. However, these worries are opportunities to trust and have faith in a God who loves us and will care for us. There are no small worries for Him. When we come to Him, He responds and reveals that He’s present with us, no matter what we are going through.
When the True, Beautiful, and Good character of God shines into a situation, it changes everything. It’s not just the eternal perspective He can bring, but the life changing and life giving moments of a new perspective now. He is with you and loves you in the midst of it all.
As someone once told us, and Christiane keeps reminding me, let’s learn to “Abide in His Grace for the day”. Take some time to meditate on this Scripture from Mathew 6:25-34 and let the Holy Spirit speak into your worry-filled situation this week.
I pray that as you approach God with honesty and expectation, He will surprise you in revealing his presence. I pray His love permeates your entire being and brings joy in your situation. If you have been struggling alone, please don’t hesitate to reach out. As your pastor, we want to pray with you and encourage you as we grow together as family.
A few weeks ago, the first Pigeon mama and her two little babies were gone. Presumably they had flown away to be who God had designed for them to be. My prayer is this would be true of each of us as well, as we keep leaning on each and growing together into who God designed us to be.