There was an argument, that went on for a long time, between Mary and Martha. “Relax, take it easy, everything is going to be fine.” “We’ve got a lot of work to do, and it needs to be done right, and not at the last minute.” “Worry is a waste of time.” “I’m not worrying, I’m planning.”
That argument was the house I grew up in.
A lot depends on what you mean by “fine.”
[Thinking of a meme.]
And what you mean by “fine” has a lot to do with what you want, what you care about. What’s the most important thing.
Yesterday at church our class was studying Jesus’s teaching about the birds and the lilies and not being anxious about tomorrow, and then in worship the tough question for thinking faith was “why?” That is, why do terrible things happen, especially to hapless children.
And someone asked “how do you keep from worrying when you see that things are not as they should be?”
All of a sudden it made sense to me why Jesus makes the comments about “your eye” first. The worry, the anxiety, the distraction, come from our perception. If we can feel our feet on the ground, we don’t worry about falling. If we can see the sun and the clear blue sky, we don’t worry about rain. If we actually saw and sensed everything around us as solidly upheld by God, whatever is happening, would we worry? Probably not.
But how would we honestly see and sense that around here? And by “here” I mean a world where we can show up at church and find someone sleeping on the pavement?
There’s a difference between “relax, take it easy” and “seek first the kingdom of God.” “Relax, take it easy” comes from a desire not to be bothered by much. Sometimes, it’s a way to say “no” to needless distractions, and sometimes it’s a way to say “no” to legitimate obligations. It doesn’t differentiate.
“Seek first the kingdom of God” brings some bother and trouble and work with it, the kind that comes from “swimming in your lane” – the trouble of the day, not tomorrow’s trouble. Also rest, when it’s time to rest. It’s more about knowing when to say “yes,” and when to say “no,” and to what. It implies discernment. To seek the kingdom of God first, rather than anything else – for that I need to stop seeking what’s NOT the kingdom of God. Whatever else that is. And then keep that one thing in view.
Our daughter used to swim in a swim league, and when she was little, especially when she was swimming breaststroke, she would look around to see where everyone else was. I used to shout at her from the sidelines, “Go, baby! Don’t look!” If Jesus were a swim mom, I think he might be doing the same thing.
“If your eye is single, your whole body will be full of light.”
Images: “Three Orange Lilies” [cropped], by Rlevse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; “A Village on Fire,” Dulwich Picture Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons, “Indoor swimming pool at Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur,” Colin Rose from Montreal, Canada, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
Note: I replaced the earlier featured image with this picture of lilies. Why didn’t I think of that in the first place? The Asiatic lilies are in full bloom here in Southern Indiana, and really make me think Jesus was not exaggerating, actually.