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Hakuta Matata—Do Not Worry

  • Posted on Oct 4, 2011

Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, what you will drink, or about your body, what will you wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them….And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Matthew 6:25-27

On Sunday, our preacher Sanford Groff let loose with a sermon on our wants. Using the context of the Ten Commandments, he talked about coveting. Wanting something someone else had…and, as they say, wanting it real bad. Sanford talked about his long car trip up the interstate where billboard after billboard advertised the lottery—in particular the megamillion lottery. He saw so many signs mile after mile that he began to believe that he, too, wanted to win the lottery. He figured out his odds. He figured out his income for the year after a big payday. I seem to remember that his annual income would be about $4.5 million if he won the megamillion jackpot. One thing he focused on buying was a new flat-screen television. 

For those of us who grew up with depression-era parents or grandparents, we know that in humans there exists the condition called “never having enough.” Some of us become hoarders (hence the reality tv show of the same name) due to the worry, the fear, of not having enough for our needs. 

At my continuing education conference last week, we began each day as a House in Prayer. We prayed the daily lectionary (in the back of the Book of Common Prayer) in chapel and after breakfast, before our speaker, we had an hour’s worth of small group bible study on the daily lectionary passage. Last Monday’s lectionary was this selection from the Gospel of Matthew. It’s always a good one for meditation, prayer and study anytime, because it speaks to the most common of human conditions that leads to addiction, sin, distance from faith and trust and relationship with God—worry about tomorrow. Worry that there will never be enough to care for our needs. 

As I started out my Monday this week with worries aplenty, I tried hard to focus on creation. Maybe the birds of the air would bring me to a place of trust and peace. I didn’t really see any birds on Monday—it was raining again. So, I came into the office and went through my usual routines. I saw my spiritual director. I had lunch with a colleague. And, in the midst of my day, I realized that worry can take on a life of its own. You don’t even know what you are doing as you go through your daily routine—except worrying or complaining inwardly about the shortcomings of your life. One conversation helped me to snap out of the never-ending treadmill of worry. A friend reminded me of my time in South Africa. And I remembered how I went through my days there with a sense of faith in God and creation. The culture around me had so little in some ways and so much in others. Yet it was not a culture that worried. And that faith in the goodness of God and creation just surrounded me as I walked down to church or drove through the back roads of Walkersville. Of course, that very same God and very same creation surround me here. In I remember to listen carefully, I can hear my South African friends whispering in my ear as they were prone to do to me, the worrisome American: “Do not worry. God is good.” Just remembering that life can be other than worry—and remembering being in a culture that celebrated that value, changed my day. 

Today the blue sky and sun are back. Worries seem to have left me for today. They will come to me again, I’m sure. But what can worry do but make you forget about the beauty and blessing everywhere in your life? Hakuta Matata—no worries!