Luke 12:25,29,31 Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, it is common to open or close a meeting with the Serenity prayer. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference. I have always thought there should be another line: Keep me from manipulating the things I can change but should not.
When I was in treatment, my life was a mess. My marriage and career were on the brink and I became obsessed with fixing them both. My primary need at that moment was that I figure out my own life and turn to God. I needed to fix me before I did anything else.
I could not do that though. I was distracted with trying to put my marriage and career back together. What I could not see, is that the only way to fix either was to turn myself to God first. My wife and my career needed me to radically change before I did anything else. I needed to surrender to God, but I wanted to work on other stuff.
This battle between surrender and manipulation came to a head over my discharge date and was perhaps my final lesson in treatment. I was to be discharged two days after my daughters 12th birthday. In my mind, it became essential that I get home for her birthday.
So, starting two weeks prior to her birthday, I began trying to manipulate events to leave early. In the end, I had to let it go. I could have forced it or I could have left, but I finally had to accept that there are some things that I can possibly change that I just need to let go. I always need to focus on God above all.
This is how I have come to understand the words of Christ here in this passage. Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing (v 22,23).
Jesus said we are to focus first on the things that truly matter. We are to put God before everything, including family and career. It is only in seeking God above all that everything else is in its proper place. When I put even good things (family and career) above God, they become destructive to me and I become destructive to them.
Jesus was not suggesting that I should not love my family, go to work, or pay bills. He was just insisting that the first thing I need to do every day is point my life at him and make sure that relationship comes above all.
There are things I cannot change. I cannot, by worrying, add time to my life. I can however, manipulate certain things that I just need to let go. So, this is my prayer, that I put God’s will above all and let go of the things that I should not manipulate.
The Seeds of the Spirit is a daily blog based on a walk through the New Testament. Written from the perspective of my own addiction, it explores the common defects of our flesh nature and the solution, our spirit life. If you find it helpful, sign up for the blog as a daily email, tell your friends and like/share it on Facebook.