Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, Matthew 6:28 ESV
Holiday weekends like this Memorial Weekend seem to be made for taking time to consider the lilies. That is what I am hoping to do anyway, as I am in Bayfield, Wisconsin, overlooking Lake Superior. It is a natural out working of the conviction I feel from what I wrote about yesterday. I want to take seriously the admonition from Scripture to periodically take a time-out to sharpen my axe.
Jesus’ instruction to consider the lilies comes in the context of His discourse about dealing with anxiety and worry in life. Unlike the lilies, we find ourselves needlessly toiling and spinning when we should be resting. The Greek word for “toil” here means literally to work hard to the point of growing weary. All of us can identify with such weariness. God has a better and a higher way, that is why we should learn from the lilies
When He tells us to consider the lilies, He is literally saying that we are to stop and study them. The Greek word for consider means that we are “to note carefully” and “learn thoroughly” from them. That requires taking the time to actually study them.
So here is my self prescription for considering the lilies.
1. Sit down. Break away from the demands of work and home to-do lists. Disengage from your cell phone and iPod. Find your way to a solitary place free from distraction, preferably outside, in nature. Sit down. Close your eyes. Take a couple of deep breaths. Just breathe in R…E…S…T. Let all the tension go. Ah…h, resssssst.
2. Listen. Now with your eyes still closed, what do you hear? There is the sound of birds, crickets chirping and a bee buzzing. I can count at least five different birds tweeting, warbling and cawing. I hear the sound of the leaves rustling in the breeze. Thanks to Henry Ford I can hear the whizzing of cars on a distant road. Oh, and somewhere there is the low drone of a small airplane making its way to what I hope is a pleasant destination where its occupants can take time to sharpen their axes.
And then a prayer: Lord most importantly, in these moments, I want to hear the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. Would you speak to me? As I sit here, feeling the beating of my heart within my chest, would you share your heart with me?
3. Look. Now open your eyes. Look around you. What do you see? The beauty of God’s creation is all around. The wispy clouds against the backdrop of blue sky are reflected in the water’s waves. The trees and grass of the God’s green earth provide such a glorious contrast.
And oh, there is that bee, still buzzing about. It is flitting just on the deck in front of me, in and out between the planks. Hmm, I wonder what it is doing? It seems to be on some bee-sized mission, looking for some hidden nectar. It is busy as a bee, that is for sure. Why doesn’t it land somewhere? In and out, up and down, incessant motion. It’s busy buzzing is starting to annoy me. I am tempted to take my sandal off and swat it. “For goodness sake, take a break! Land somewhere and be still! Can’t you see I am trying to consider the lilies?”