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FAITH: It begins by accepting you are a work in progress

Brad McKenzie

This past Tuesday while my office was without power, I sat in the church parking lot in my truck attending a Zoom meeting so I could get some form of cell service.

While attending the meeting, I watched a bird look for food on small patches of grass no longer covered with ice and snow. It impressed me how in the glow from the bright sun dancing off the white cover, the bird did not seem fazed by the events of the past 48 hours and did not seem worried about what would happen next. I found myself being a bit jealous of this bird’s situation and perspective on life. Then I went to the Word of God to remind me of God’s care and faithfulness.

‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ Philippians 4:4-7 ESV

If any group of people in the State of Texas have reason to be anxious about what can happen at the hand of mother nature, it would be us here in S.E. Texas! We all know what it is like to suffer through power outages, lack of supplies, and general angst. I do want to publicly praise the Lord for the blessings we had in our area compared to other parts of the state. Even so, I know this week has brought much anxiety to many and creates more layers of worry for a community already edgy about what may come next. In all of this, I believe we can be like the little bird I watched on Tuesday.

‘ “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.’ Matthew 6:25-34 ESV

In complete transparency, anxiety and worry have been a struggle for me all my life. Some of it I come by naturally being raised in part by a worrying grandmother, and some of it has been learned as I have struggled to trust in God completely with all things in life.

What the Lord continues to teach me is trust in God does not come when things are good and there are no problems, it only comes when we face trials of many kinds and look to Him fully for our help and comfort. I wish I could go back 20 years and tell my younger self “Relax, trust in God, and follow Him completely!” I also wish I could be freer of anxiety than I currently am, but I as always, I am still a work in progress.

Look, I do not know if God is intentionally allowing our season of historical events to rattle us and get our attention, but I do know He wants to use these circumstances to draw us closer to Him. I can tell you in my discipline to dig deep in the Word and read the entire Bible this year, I have found more joy and more hope than ever before as I am being freed from anxiety. This is brought about by seeking first His Kingdom! Friends, THE WORD OF GOD IS TRUE AND HAS ALL WE NEED FOR LIFE!

So, in the coming days, let us all cast our cares on Him, for He is strong to save. There may be more coming, but He is not surprised and will never let us down! That is Good News! You are Valued and Loved, Pastor Brad

Rev. Brad McKenzie is Lead Pastor at Orange First Church of the Nazarene, 3810 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Orange.