Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well . . . Matthew 6:25-33
I had a very embarrassing moment with God a few weeks ago. Have you ever had one of those moments where you have so justified your sin that when the gentle nudge of the Holy Spirit completely exposes you, pricking you with conviction, that all you can do is nod your head in complete submission? That was me in an embarrassing, private moment with my Lord when I opened up an old Baby wipes box filled with shoes . . . size 3 shoes, in fact. Let me give you the back-story.
There are few things I enjoy more than dressing my boys up. Especially at Christmas and Easter, I thrill to take their pictures in little matching outfits. It’s one of the cheaper joys of motherhood for me: whether they are hitting and biting each other a minute before or after I snap the shot, I will forever have my two little matching boys to trophy.
For Easter this year, I was thrilled to find darling seersucker suits in both their sizes for bargain basement prices. I endeavored to finish off their outfits with new shoes and shirts to match, and was heading out the door to the mall when my husband informed me that new shoes and shirts weren’t in the budget. Now, in my defense, I am a great bargain shopper, and I don’t even shop that much. But to my husband’s credit, we had agreed on a budget, and I had forgotten to leave room for Easter accoutrement. And now, he was proposing the crazy idea of the boys wearing old clothes for Easter—!
I don’t remember anything else that he said because I will confess that I threw a grand mal fit at the very idea of my boys not wearing those adorable seersucker outfits for Easter. I couldn’t believe that he would even ask me to consider something so out of the realm of my reality . . . I pulled out every manipulation and tear jerking memory I could think of . . . I insisted that if I did not complete the boys’ outfits, I would have a break down. It was ugly: spoiled and rank.
I cried and cried, until I had lost my husband’s attention and was kneeling in our bedroom alone. I knew I wasn’t rational, and at that point I didn’t even know why this was so important to me. I didn’t pray for help, kneeling there. Instead, I filled my mind with justifications and excuses, entitlements . . . blah, blah, blah. The tears kept falling, and I puddled into pitiful.
I finally felt Jack standing in the door behind me. I turned to see the puzzled look on his face. He winced at the tears running down my face, and at Caleb’s memory book open on the floor in front of me. His face recognized that I was just as confused as he was as to what was going on. He sighed. “If it means that much to you, Love, let’s go get your Easter outfits.”
And, even though I could justify disrespecting my husband who is generous and fair beyond reproach, the cute little boat shoes I had fought for and the matching tangerine oxford shirts I practically stole they were such a good deal weren’t nearly as much fun to buy as I had hoped. Something else bothered me: Sam’s miniature feet had grown way more than I had thought they had. In fact, after he had been measured at the shoe store, I wondered if he even needed shoes, or if there may not be a pair at home that may fit? Of course, I bought him new ones anyways.
So, later that week, when I discovered in that old Baby wipes box that there were actually three—3!—pairs of shoes he could wear for Easter, and that he never needed new ones, and that maybe, just maybe God had provided for my family before I even considered that he could, I replayed the ugly scene of my fit-throwing, disrespectful, ungrateful yuck . . . and I knew God wasn’t going to let me justify any of it.
Since then, I’ve been thinking a lot about Matthew 6: 25-24. We are urged, “not to worry” about our “life, what [we] will eat or what [we] will drink, or about our [bodies], what [we] will wear.” And that all seems so great in theory, but every parent out there knows how real the practicalities of parenting are. Our job is to worry about taking care of our children: to protect and nurture their lives, feed, clothe, and educate them.
But as much as it is my duty to provide for my children, I understand now that there was one thing I didn’t do concerning the whole Easter fiasco. I didn’t go to God! I didn’t pray, and pour my heart out to my Father, and tell him, Lord, I know this may sound crazy in an Eternal context, but I really desire to dress my boys up for Easter. I don’t know where it comes from. Is it pride? Is it a wound I have that I’m trying to bandage with seersucker? Does this, too, have to do with a grief issue? Am I just being a brat? I don’t know, but I do know that You search me and know me. Will You provide for me something more than just Easter outfits? Will You provide a filling for this gaping hole I don’t understand?
And then the veil lifted for just a moment. If every need and desire is brought first to our heavenly Father, then the context of that emptiness may be addressed first spiritually and then materially if need be. He can provide all healing, all filling, spiritual and material. And I wonder if I had approached my Father, instead of charging ahead to consume, would I not have taken the time to look for a pair of shoes for Sam? Maybe I also would have found the darling little shirt Abraham already had? Maybe . . .
I am realizing that most of what I want materially is tied to who I am spiritually. My desires and lusts are always about missing pieces of my heart that I cannot purchase back. Only God can fill my broken spaces. For my real material need, I know “ . . . indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” Matthew 6:32-33. It’s never about the seersucker, really. It’s always about what’s going on in my heart.
And so I am trying to want things less, and when I see a pair of shoes or that cool big toy on display at Costco or a Pottery Barn display that triggers an inner, grand mal fit of lust and entitlement, I am trying to say a little prayer: Lord, here is my want. Will you show me my need, and satiate my lust for this world with your kingdom and your righteousness?
Trying . . .