“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith! And do not keep striving for what you are to eat and what you are to drink, and do not keep worrying. For it is the nations of the world that strive after all these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, strive for his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom...” (Luke 12:27-32)
Don’t Worry, Trust in the Lord
I think I used to have a bias against ravens. Big black birds... bigger than a crow... kind of loud... not as impressive as a hawk or an eagle... not as beautiful a call as a meadowlark or an owl or even a red-winged blackbird... not nearly as cute as a dipper, diving down under the surface of a mountain stream looking for food and them bobbing up and down on a rock, as if they are dancing to a beat that only they can hear. But ravens, well... what’s so special about them?
Here’s the thing: I seem to run into ravens almost as often as I see robins. It’s as if they are following me around, or I’m following them. There’s one on a lamp post. There’s one soaring above the park and then landing on a picnic table. There’s one on the roof right above the steps to my front door. Here a raven, there a raven... everywhere a raven. Sometimes I wonder if these birds are the presence of my father (who loved birds), saying to me (along with Jesus), “Pete, it really is going to be okay. Just enjoy watching this raven for a while.”
Clearly ravens go back a number of centuries, and clearly Jesus observed them in the region of Israel called the Galilee.
“Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Is my life more valuable than that of a bird? I’m not always sure that is true. But Jesus seemed to think so.)
Jesus took time to consider the ravens, and consider the lilies. And even though both of these were on the earth for a very short while, Jesus came to these conclusions: God creates and provides for them, and they don’t worry about how or if they are going to provided for, or what they will wear.
Can’t we trust in God’s provision in the same way that a raven or a lily does? Probably our brain is our biggest obstacle in this whole enterprise called life. I have a mentor who says, “Your brain is not always your best friend”, or something like that. And let’s not even mention our egos...
Seek first God’s kingdom, Jesus says, and “... these things [food, drink, clothing, etc.] will be given to you as well.” (Luke 12:31) And immediately after this he says, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (verse 32)
That has to be in the group of my favorite sayings of Jesus. It is God the Father’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom! God wants to give us all the good and important stuff, and in fact can’t wait to give it to us!
This means that the moment we begin seeking after it, God is already showering us with the blessings that come with the kingdom - people who love us and people we can love, guidance, joy, healing, forgiveness, gracious provision, opportunities to create, learn, and serve, beauty, hope, music - and, of course... birds and flowers... and mountains and streams and oceans and fish and stars and dogs and cats and moose and everything else!
“Do not be afraid..” Richard Rohr or someone like that says this phrase appears in Scripture around 365 times - once for each day of the year.
Try not to worry so much. Try not to resist God’s help, God’s daily offer of generosity. Take some time to consider those ravens and smell the lilac trees. Maybe even plant a flower or two. (Perhaps the spring snowstorms have come to an end!)
Trust in the Lord. Seek the kingdom of God. Believe in Jesus’ promise, that - when you do - everything else will be given to you by a God who delights in giving.