Sunday, September 2
Antidote for Anxiety
Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.
Some studies suggest that emerging generations are the most anxious in modern history. Of course, there’s so much to be anxious about. The stresses of our culture have only grown with the advent of the internet and the pressure to perform and outperform the competition. We are more compelled to keep up with the Joneses than ever before. We are bombarded with information—useful and useless.
And we are becoming the most medicated in history, too. Addiction rates are skyrocketing. Some communities have declared it a public health epidemic.
Even Jesus knew that this kind of stress to be the best and have the best wasn’t good for us. He encouraged people to reshape their priorities when it came to amassing stuff. After all, we can’t bring it with us. He also encouraged us to let go of the pressures we put on ourselves and others—pressures that cause us undue stress and anxiety. Jesus knew that God had what we needed and would gladly give it.
The problem is we have lost our ability to discern between what we need and what we want. I need my cell phone (and in the life I’ve created for myself, I really do rely on it). But is a cell phone truly a need? Or have I become too reliant on its lures?
How do I untangle myself from the woven web of want/need/stuff/necessities/luxuries? I truly wouldn’t have any less anxiety if I simply stopped using a cell phone. The phone has become a critical tool in maintaining my lifestyle. The only thing that would truly be helpful in reducing stress and anxiety is changing my lifestyle altogether. And that’s a tall order. I don’t even think I want to.
So, what’s the answer? I’m sorry to say, today, there isn’t one. Instead, today, it’s a question. One worth wrestling with. The question is this: What could I do to alleviate my anxiety and live my best life consistent with the will of God? Truly, there is no one answer for this big question. But even wrestling with the question is bound to have some healing effects on the wrestler. And maybe, just maybe, I might leave my phone home. Just for today.
Narrative Lectionary Text: Luke 12:13-34
Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, ‘Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.”
He said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 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. Sell your possessions, and give alms. Make purses for yourselves that do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.