A few days ago, I picked up my Bible and the page had fallen open to Matthew 6 (The Message). I'd read it months ago, and had even highlighted some verses that had touched me. And yet, my eyes were seeing the words with a renewed interest. In verse 19 Jesus is warning against storing up our treasures on earth... and advising to "stockpile" treasures in Heaven. I thought about the idea of treasures for a while and even asked some friends what they thought "our Heavenly treasures" were. It was good food for thought.
But, those were not the verses that really hit me, this time.
Those verses started at verse 25:
If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.... (vs 30)... If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers - most of which are never even seen - don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with "getting" so you can respond to God's "giving". People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep you life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. GIVE your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.
Right before this passage Jesus is telling his disciples that they can only worship one god. If they love one, they'll have to hate the other, two can not coincide! Loving God and loving money or material matters won't work. And then he goes on to say that if we pick Christ... or focus will shift from all those worldly things! Our minds will not be set on where we think we're failing from the worlds perspective. Our God is a GOD of provisions and faithfulness. A God of making and keeping promises to us. A God of love.
I love the phrase where he says the birds live "careless in the care of God". WOW. Can you even wrap your mind around that?! How often do we go through our day and have anxiety pop up. Worries about this and that and big stuff and petty stuff?! Countless! How is it that we can so quickly forget who's arms are carrying us?!
The other word choice in The Message, that i just LOVED, b/c it gives me such a visual, is when it says that we are to "steep" our lives in God. It gives me this picture of a tea bag. It's like Christ is the tea bag and I'm this cup of water. We all know the longer the tea bag is IN the water, the stronger the tea right? Steeping takes time and conditions generally have to be right. Most tea bags "steep" better in hot water. Don't ask me why because Science wasn't my thing in high school! But it completely relates to our Christian walks as well. When we are HOT for God. When we are passionate and walking with Him daily, living in surrender, living a life desperate to please HIS heart, His spirit comes in and starts to steep in our souls. Starts to fill us up, starts to mature and deepen our desire and our intimacy with the Father!!! It's soothing, it's inviting, it's comfort and it's home.
And then "something" happens. Perhaps it's hard times. Perhaps it's a failed relationship, a loss of job, a loss of a loved one, a recurring habit, anger, depression, you fill in the blank. Our eyes shift.. with a blink we can find ourselves distracted... somehow the world can seem like it has the answers or looks inviting to human desires.
Gradually, the hotness turns to warmth... which quickly fades to a coolness that seems distant from the Father.
Go back with me to the cup of water. Imagine now, that the water is cool. The tea bag enters the water, at first sort of floating on top, gradually filling with water and sinking into the cup. With the absence of the heat, the tea doesn't spread into the water with the intensity, speed, or strength that it did in the hot water. It's potency and strength fails to match that of the hot cup! And it's due to the conditions!
SO is the Spirit in our hearts. When we become cool or aloof to the spirit, the power He has in our lives diminishes! Christ is still present! He promises to never leave us. But when our hearts are distracted and have wandered from His, our hearts and souls can NOT be filled with the Spirit. We can't walk in HIS fullness, we can't bask in HIS presence with the same peace, and we can not reach and meet His highest calling on our lives.
Check out a definition I found of the word "steep". Apply my crazy tea bag philosophy... reflect and think. Ask God to open your eyes.
steep 2 (stp)
Where are you in the steeping process?