24 Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? 26 Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?
27 “Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! 29 And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30 For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.
32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions and give to the poor.
I used to be a goal guy. I'd type a list of quantified goals, sometimes laminate the sheet, and keep it in a desk drawer or handy place where it could be referenced. This is what the business books taught. This goal orientation was the yellow brick road to success, all paved with 7 habits. I can't say this wasn't helpful. It was. The road to success books offered practical tips that taught me things about efficiency and effectiveness. The goal driven life increased my organizational health, just as time on a treadmill increases my cardiovascular endurance. The problem became when I failed to step off of the treadmill. The speed always increases in small, almost unnoticeable increments. The incline always ratcheting up a notch. I was running faster and was certainly in better shape. Yet, life was increasingly faster, steeper, and I was out of breath.
We used to have about eight large pines that lined our back fence. They provided privacy and a bit of shade. However, they had been planted too close together and were choking each other out. They were out of breath. They were growing taller, reaching skyward, but becoming unhealthy and frail from the overcrowding. Last year, we cut them down to the stumps. We haven't been able to get the roots out as I now realize how difficult it is to remove a base of roots that run deep. You need a powerful force to pull them out. My small tools weren't going to do the job. However, the first step was simply cutting down the trees, the next will be to remove the roots, and ultimately we'll plant a garden there. Removing the trees changed everything. The view from our deck is now an amazing picture of God's artistry, open fields lined by mountains, the sun setting nightly in marvelous multi-colors.
God's been doing some deep tilling of my heart over the past two years, digging out deep roots that were choking out life and new growth. My striving and reaching tall cut down, providing a new perspective, a better view. I'm glad that God's doing the heavy lifting of removing the roots. My tools don't suffice. He has a garden of new growth planned for my rock-strewn heart, I'm certain. Yet, for now, He stands with me and points to the fantastic view, much clearer now with the fallen trees. The roots will go, soil tilled, seeds planted, and new life will come forth, all in perfect seasonal timing. For now, there is this view.
My goals this year are more dependant I suppose. That word, dependant, all tarnished by our culture as a label for the weak and the lazy. I've thought and prayed about these goals, should we even call them that. They're more focus areas, I guess. They include to leave nothing unsaid, to listen to my wife beyond her words and in tune with her heart, and to look my children in the eyes more often - so that they know and so that I hear. Finally, to work with God in the heart-tilling, I'll look to apply Andy Stanley's heart cleansing initiatives of forgiving, giving, celebrating, and confessing. All of this coated in the Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.
I read Luke 12 today and saw it. I've read these "do not worry" verses many times and always focused on the anti-anxiety directive. I knew of the reminders that God cares for the birds of the air and the flower of the field. What I had previously missed was what creation does to find God's favor. Well, they do nothing. Jesus says, " Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them." The birds, they're not achieving goals, yet God provides for them. Jesus continues, "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." The wild flowers dont' work, they simply live sun-seeking. Jesus even plays the Solomon card to separate the beauty of and care for the flowers from our culture chase of piling possessions for position. They do not, yet... God does.
Seven days in, I've had two opportunities to hear my wife's heart. Both times I drew her into the courtroom of debate, telling her that her words weren't logical saying, "let me explain this to you rationally." Fail. I do not have to get it all right, yet God does. I've hollered discipline to my kids, telling them of their failings to clean their rooms led to a ridiculously messy house. All the time missing eye contact and meaning. Fail. I am imperfect, yet God is perfectly gracoius. I've spoken passive aggressively instead of directly and have thought little about the four heart remedies after I finished the book and replaced it on the shelf. Fail, fail. I do not, yet God does. Yet, I'm not out of breath. In all these failings, I'm not resigned to throw in the towel on these goals. Because I cannot apply them on my own. He will. And, for now, there is this view that's amazing.