How do we live a good life in today’s world.  Who do we listen to for advice and help?  Where can we go for affirmation?  How can we find our way?

Today, the lineups  for hospital  beds and medical procedures, school closures, bad water and tainted meat scandals show all to clearly the “morality and ethics” of the champions of the new global reality.  How many leaders claiming to show the way have ended up impaled upon their own character flaws and arrogance.   Fiscal and moral bankruptcies abound.  People have become frantic because the more they guzzle the tonic of easy solutions,  the deeper and sharper their thirst becomes.  Bloated materially and languishing spiritually, many stagger and their suffering is great.  The frantic yearly Christmas shopping rush is a sad testimony to our impoverished state.

This impoverishment is not a new condition of mankind.  Thoreau in the 1800’s observed:

The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.  What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.  From the desperate city you [go] into the desperate country,…   A stereotyped but unconscious despair is concealed even under what are called the games and amusements of mankind.[1]

Have you ever felt a quiet desperation -perhaps, in traffic, at work, in the Christmas rush, or in the silence of your own worries and pain late at night?  Are our souls so beset with the watery bloat of material wants and concerns that our will cannot move us to a more courageous way of life? I can’t speak for your soul but I will admit that this is a condition that causes me suffering and anguish.  I’m left, to envy and aspire to the bravery of the mink and muskrat.

Thoreau, went on to poise a universal question: “When we consider what, … , is the chief end of man, and what are the true necessaries and means of life, it appears as if men had deliberately chosen the common mode of living because they preferred it to any other.  Yet they honestly think there is no choice left.”[2]

For Thoreau, there are many choices and alternatives to quiet desperation.   People just need the courage to explore and seek them out.   On this point I disagree with him.  As a Christian, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  With Jesus, we can escape the life of quiet desperation.   With Christ we can live free and become what God intended us to be.

Jesus, in His Grace and Mercy teaches us not to worry about the necessaries of life.

He urges us in Matthew 6: 25 – 34:

… 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 important than food, and the body more important 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?  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  And why do you worry about clothes; See how the lilies of the field grow.  They do not labour or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour 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, O 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 pagons 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.  There fore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

However, we all know that  living free from the worry about tomorrow is easier said than done.  Seeking God’s Kingdom first before we worry about bills, kids and work just doesn’t seem realistic.  Jesus’s response was; – “O you of little faith”.

Thoreau, put it this way:

How vigilant we are! Determined not to live by faith if we can avoid it; all the day long on the alert, at night we unwillingly say our prayers and commit ourselves to uncertainties.  So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. [3]

When we move forward in Christ, seeking first the Kingdom of God as our faith grows we gradually abandon the worries about tomorrow.

Is this an easy process?  Not for me, and probably  not for you.  Quite often – Its scarey.  Paradoxically,  we make the most head way when life  knocks the wind out of us.  Usually, IT HURTS.

Faith is about growing and there are always growing pains and plenty of problems letting go of the baggage that keeps us overly focussed on tomorrow.   As we travel our spiritual path, letting go of our burdens, we also face a world that at best  has absolutely no comprehension of the faith journey.  At worst, we face powers and principalities that are openly and eternally hostile to our journey.  Without a doubt our journey will include run ins with both the uncomprehending world and Satan.  This is why I believe to the bottom of my soul that the spiritual journey can only be successfully completed through the Grace of Christ.

Without a doubt, our journey to the Kingdom of God, involves our becoming less and Christ becoming more in our soul’s centre. The concerns and worries about tomorrow often have to be knocked out of us.  What will we become after a life of letting go and seeking the Kingdom of God first?  Where will we “end up”?

How many of us, when life is good – cling to Jesus?  God in His mercy, has built into us, a tendency to cling to Him, when life is hard and painful?  In weakness we flock to Jesus.  And He takes our weakness and makes it a great strength.  Only the proud and arrogant refuse the lifeline to drown in a sea of stupidity.  The world, has a great deal of trouble understanding that a life of letting go of tomorrow’s concerns can lead to great blessings.   However the emptiness of the rat race is becomming evident to more and more people.  A while ago, I saw a poster in an office that pictured a whole group of rats in Nikes and stylish running  outfits racing around a track. It read the trouble with winning the rat race is that your still a rat.

Our lives can become so full with agendas, meetings, activities, commitments, parties, and appointments that our hands full and our arms are heaped up with concerns that we literally can’t see where we are going, in a spiritual way.  Common sense tells us that you can’t accept anything if your hands are full unless you put something down.

At our best, we can realize that our hands are too full to accept what God has for us.  But if you are like me, sadly and all to often, our hold on the worry about our daily bread causes us too cling tightly to let go of anything. The time of letting go comes with accidents, sickness, broken relationships, and strife.  When life’s events shock loose your tight hold on the little things.  Thankfully, Jesus is right there to take hold of your emptied hand.  Thankfully, Jesus is right there, ready for your embrace and tears.  Thankfully Jesus is right there to cry with you and love you.

from a sermon given on Sept 13, 2005

[1]           Henry David Thoreau (1854): Walden, p. 50

[2]           Ibid

[3]           Thoreau; Walden, p. 53