Worry, and the way round it.

Homily 314 – 3rd after Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
June 17, 2018
Epistle – (88) Romans 5: 1-10
Gospel – (18) Matthew 6:22-33

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

It is no secret that this passage in St. Matthew is a personal favorite. I recommend it to everyone. Read it every day, morning and night. Out loud.

And over time – the passage begins to transform us.

In my case, I worried. About everything. Money, health, safety, you name it. If it was an unknown, I was worried about it.

Until the worry broke me. I couldn’t function. I was paralyzed. And it wasn’t that significant of an issue that broke me.

I had not caught a mistake one of my staff made. I was afraid. Afraid of losing my job, afraid of losing our home, everything.

And not without reason. I did eventually lose that job, although that particular event wasn’t the reason.

Meanwhile, I began talking to someone. Talking with a therapist. Who helped me begin to understand. It was this therapist who took a throwaway statement I had made, and forced me to think about it.

And eventually I quit running from God and became a deacon, then a priest, because of it.

From the day of that brokenness, until my ordination, was 10 years. And every day of those 10 years, even until today, morning and night, I’ve read this passage. Out loud. To myself.

The promises, the clarity, of this passage of scripture put me on the path to healing.

I’m convinced it will heal anyone. It takes time. Some hardheads like me took a decade.

What Jesus tells us in this passage is that if you can’t change it, you shouldn’t worry about it.

If you can’t change it, you shouldn’t worry about it.

We don’t think about things that way. We like to delude ourselves – lie to ourselves – that we are in complete control of our lives. The world – our society – reinforces this belief every single day.

The power that Christ points out here is that we really can’t change anything. We aren’t in control of anything. We can plant, we can tend, but we don’t cause growth.

We can’t control the weather, our family, the price of eggs, or the oil pressure in our car.

That is what this passage challenges us with. Anything we can think that we control – we don’t. We just don’t.

And, here is the powerful part – we shouldn’t even try. It is futile. Brothers and sisters, it is foolish.

Don’t misunderstand me. We can achieve a lot. More than we even dream. But we cannot control. We can do things like travel in space or create music and art, or care for those in need.

But we cannot control those things.

In this passage, Jesus Christ tells us that we can be assured – guaranteed – of two things.

That God knows our needs. And that God loves us.

Doesn’t matter what we have done or not done – God loves us. Even forgives us.

Even incarnates His Only-begotten Son to die for us. To die with us.

It takes a very long time to reprogram our thoughts to stop worrying. Even today I still worry. I’m still a work in progress.

So what takes the place of worry? What will I do with all this time, energy?

Our Lord says to seek the Kingdom of God. Search, dig, beg, cajole – whatever it takes. The energy you put into worry, put into action by loving others without reservations, without conditions.

And consider St. Paul’s response – rejoice! Even in sufferings – because suffering has benefits. Perseverance. Character. Hope.

We used to be enemies, trying to change the things of God which are unchangeable. And He loved us then. More than we can comprehend love. Infinite love.

Now that we are reconciled with Him – He loves us more.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God. Glory to Jesus Christ!