“Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?”
“How much more” is about as quantitative of a question as you can get. When we ask it, we’re asking for a measurable answer. We want to know estimated time, dollar amounts, or distance. We want to ensure that we made the right decisions, purchased the right items, and turned the right way. And for some reason we have it in our minds that comparison is the best way for that to be done.
It’s everywhere, really. We compare beauty, success, sizes of homes and types of cars. We make a decision about ourselves based upon the side-by-side evaluation of another. It’s really rather twisted, but that’s not what my heart is after today. I’m after how we reconcile the unknown things we try to grasp with a good God who promises more.
There is something thrilling about the unknown in a mystical, fairytale way. There is something enticing about far away days filled with adventure that we’ve yet to discover. There is something beautifully stunning about a heart full of desire and void of expectation that could alter your life for better. The unknown can be beautiful.
But there is something equally terrifying about not knowing where you could be in a year. Or what you’ll be doing or who you’ll be with. It’s the dark tunnel you must travel through to reach the light at the other end. Your journey through the tunnel will impact your attitude when you reach the light. And our King has promised to be the same all the way through.
I’m certain it’s because he knows how quickly we get caught up in the unknowns of our future that he told us to look around at the birds in the air and the flowers in the field. “If I take care of them, how much more do I know what’s best for you?”
The question is rhetorical. He’s not expecting nor asking for a calculated answer with hands held four feet apart saying, “This much more, Jesus. Thanks for the equation.”
The point of the question is that there is no answer. There is simply no measure to how much more He cares for you.
And the “how much more” ought to cover everything. It is provision and protection. For the tangible and intangible. It is for the things you know you need, and the things you’ve yet to discover. And in trying to communicate this eternal truth to the people, he calls them not to look at their own lives, but at those around them.
I’m the pot calling the kettle black over here because just this week I sat on my dirty kitchen floor crying because I want answers that Jesus hasn’t given me yet. I picked my sniffling self up and headed to the couch in my living room next to a coffee table holding my leather bound journal. As I reached for it, hoping word vomit would somehow help me make sense of the unwanted fountain flowing from my eyes, I looked right a vase of lovely purple flowers.
“How much more?” my heart echoed. “I love these flowers a whole lot. But how much more, Gwen? How much more do I love you? How much more will I take care of you?”
I don’t often have fresh flowers in my living room. I bought them for a dear friend’s grandmother who was in the hospital in Dallas, but made it all the way up to her room before learning she had been discharged just hours earlier. With no time that day to drive an hour outside town to their home, I concluded I would need to babysit the flowers until I could make the trek.
Some may call it silly, but I call it Jesus’ sweetness to force me to place a bouquet of flowers on my coffee table, knowing I would need them that night. Knowing that I would need to see flowers to remember the way he takes care of me.
It’s a funny emotion to feel sought after by Jesus and if I’m honest it often causes me to buck up my pride. It’s almost as if his closeness gives me the courage to lash out with doubt-soaked inquiries regarding my future. “Why? When? Where? Who?” These unanswered questions have the ability to spin my heart into an anxious heap of wondering, and I’m hoping that maybe you need a little recentering, too.
Not only does anxiety fail to add hours to your life, it takes away the hours that you do have. The more time you spend spinning webs of “what ifs”, the less time you have to trust. Maybe we need to be reminded that trust and anxiety are the antithesis of one another and they can’t occupy the same heart.
No matter where you’ll be one year from now, you are somewhere today for a reason. Dig your heels deep in the place you are and lay your wonderings about the future before the One who does know. He doesn’t withhold good things (Psalm 84:11) and works even the messy things for your good and his glory (Romans 8:28). Live fully and love deeply right here, right now. Seek his kingdom – pursue holiness. Fight sin. Invest in others. Love people when they’re messy. Let people in when the messy one is you.
I’m in the process of reoccupying a heart filled of fear with confident trust in the promise of who God is and what He has spoken over me. And what he has spoken is a simple, “how much more?”
What things are occupying your mind to the point of a breakdown? What is ruling your thoughts in a way that cripples your delight and trust in Yahweh? most importantly, Will you believe him when softly speaks, “how much more?”