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    Beyond Worry

    Being Led or Disposed Of Just As God Pleases

    By Madame Guyon, Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Clarence Jordan, Christina Rossetti, and Howard Thurman

    August 23, 2021

    This article is an excerpt from Following the Call: Living the Sermon on the Mount Together.

    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. (Matthew 6:25–3)

    Madame Guyon

    Abandonment is the casting off of all selfish care, that we may be altogether at the divine disposal. All Christians are exhorted to this resignation: for it is said to all, “Be not anxious for tomorrow, for your Heavenly Father knoweth all that is necessary for you” (Matt. 6:34). “In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Prov. 3:6). “Commit thy ways unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established” (Prov. 16:3). “Commit thy ways unto the Lord, and he himself will bring it to pass” (Ps. 37:5).

    Our abandonment … is practiced by continually losing our own will in the will of God; by renouncing every particular inclination as soon as it arises, however good it may appear, that we may stand in indifference with respect to ourselves, and only will that which God from eternity hath willed; by being resigned in all things, whether for soul or body, whether for time or eternity; by leaving what is past in oblivion, what is to come to Providence, and devoting the present moment to God, which brings with itself God’s eternal order, and is as infallible a declaration to us of his will as it is inevitable and common to all; by attributing nothing that befalls us to the creature, but regarding all things in God, and looking upon all, excepting only our sins, as infallibly proceeding from him. Surrender yourselves, then, to be led and disposed of just as God pleaseth, with respect both to your outward and inward state.

    several sparrows landing on a persons hand

    Photograph by Cedric VT

    Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt

    At present the whole world lies deep in worries and cares, including the wealthiest of nations. But within the society and organism that proceeds from Christ, worries can and should cease. There we should care for one another. When the apostle Paul says, “Do not worry,” he takes it for granted that these are people who are united by a bond of solidarity so that no one says anymore, “This is mine,” but all say, “Our solidarity, our bond, must take away our worries. All that we share together must help each one of us and so rid us of anxiety.”

    In this way the kingdom of heaven comes. First it comes in a small flock free from anxiety. Thus Jesus teaches: “I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. … But seek first God’s kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:32–33). From the beginning, ever since Christ was born, people have sought such a society, a fellowship of the kingdom, free from cares and worries. There is an enormous strength when people stand together, when they unite together in a communal way. The idea of private property falls away, and they are so bound together in the Spirit that each one says, “What I have belongs to the others, and if I should ever be in need, they will help me” (2 Cor. 8:13– 15). This firm and absolute standing together in a shared life where each is responsible for the other is the kind of life in which you can indeed say, “Don’t worry!”

    Clarence Jordan

    How does God “add all these things” (Matt. 6:33) to kingdom citizens? Does he rain them from the skies or provide them miraculously merely “in answer to prayer”? Certainly not. That isn’t the way he does it for the birds and lilies. They are nourished from the system to which they have committed themselves. The needs of kingdom citizens are supplied through the kingdom. It is God’s distributing agency.

    Let’s be more specific and turn to an actual illustration. In the Book of Acts we are told that the Holy Spirit came upon 120 people on the day of Pentecost. This powerful, indwelling Spirit brought them, and three thousand more shortly thereafter, into the kingdom, into the love relationship with God and their brothers and sisters. One result of this tremendous inward change was a radically different attitude toward possessions. Luke was so amazed at it that he described it twice (Acts 2:44–45; 4:32–35). He said, “Now the heart and soul of the multitude of believers was one, and not a one of them claimed any of his possessions for himself, but all things were shared by them. And with great power the apostles were exhibiting the evidence of the Lord Jesus’ resurrection, and everybody was greatly delighted. For there wasn’t among them anyone in need. Those who were owners of lands and houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the sale and turned them over to the apostles.” …

    How did it happen that there wasn’t a needy person among these people? Had more food, clothing, and shelter been miraculously created? No, but a new way of life had been adopted. Need, not greed, became the principle by which they lived. By partaking of the spirit of Jesus, they became new citizens of the kingdom of God. Sharing completely with one another in love and unity and making distribution according to the new standard of measurement, they took the assets which God had already given them and cared for those in need. …

    When God first made humankind, he made provision for all our needs. This has been true ever since. God has already “added all these things.” There is enough in the world today to meet all our needs. The problem is not in supply but in distribution, not with God but with us. Poverty and riches are the result of man’s rebellion against the will of God. When his kingdom comes, when his will is done on earth, both poverty and riches will go!

    Christina Rossetti

    Consider the Lilies of the Field

    Flowers preach to us if we will hear:—
    The rose saith in the dewy morn:
    I am most fair;
    Yet all my loveliness is born
    Upon a thorn.
    The poppy saith amid the corn:
    Let but my scarlet head appear
    And I am held in scorn;
    Yet juice of subtle virtue lies
    Within my cup of curious dyes.
    The lilies say: Behold how we
    Preach without words of purity.
    The violets whisper from the shade
    Which their own leaves have made:
    Men scent our fragrance on the air,
    Yet take no heed
    Of humble lessons we would read.
    But not alone the fairest flowers:
    The merest grass
    Along the roadside where we pass,
    Lichen and moss and sturdy weed,
    Tell of His love who sends the dew,
    The rain and sunshine too,
    To nourish one small seed.

    Howard Thurman

    We spread before thee, our Father, all of the mounting concerns of our lives and even as we do so we are not sure of what thou canst do about them. But there is within us the great necessity to expose the heights and the depths of our concerns to thee, whose wisdom transcends our little wisdoms, whose caring contains all the reaches of our own love, and whose mind holds all our little minds in their place.

    We are concerned as we hear the tidings of the destruction and the suffering from the raging storms and winds and the snows of winter, as in combination they beat down upon thy children in other lands. The suffering, the desolation, the panic, the fear – these reach us even in the quietness. … We try to encompass in the sweep of our awareness the intimate overtones of colossal misery and frustration and hurt and pain and hate and love. One by one we might speak of our various desires. But thou knowest how far these reach and where they are limited and bounded by our ignorance or our indifference or by the intensity of the personal struggle with which we ourselves are faced.

    We lay bare the personal concerns of our private lives: the decisions we must make and do not know how to make; the anxiety which we feel because of what is going on within our minds or our bodies, the outcome of which we cannot even guess. The little awareness of the little problems of our little lives mounts to overwhelming proportions when we still ourselves in thy waiting presence. We ask nothing. We wait. We wait, our Father, until at last something of thy strength becomes our strength, something of thy heart becomes our heart, something of thy forgiveness becomes our forgiveness. We wait, O God, we wait.

    Madame Guyon (Jeanne-Marie Bouvier de La Motte Guyon), A Short and Easy Method of Prayer (London: H. R. Allenson, Ltd., 1905), 21–22. Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt, Action in Waiting (Rifton, NY: Plough Publishing House, 2012), 141. Clarence Jordan, Sermon on the Mount (Valley Forge: Judson Press, 1970), 96–98. Copyright © 1952 by Judson Press. Used by permission of Judson Press. Christina Rossetti, “Consider the Lilies of the Field,” from Goblin Market, The Prince's Progress and Other Poems (London: Macmillan 1879). Howard Thurman, The Search for Common Ground (Richmond, IN: Friends United Press, 1986), 26–28.<>/p

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