Wednesday, 15 February 2012

It's Not Time to Worry Yet, Scout

I’ve been staying in Dunedin for the last ten days or so. The night before I left I packed in a mad rush. I did that thing where you open your wardrobe, pull out all your draws and throw into your suitcase anything you like the look of without any real thought as to what is useful, practical or necessary.
Last year I had spent a couple of months travelling around the UK and Europe. I had packed less clothes for those two months than I did for these two weeks. It’s all about preparation really. I had been more prepared for those two months. I had thought carefully about the places I was going and the adaptability of the different items I had packed, whether they would dry quickly, or could be layered to keep me warm, or rolled up and stuffed into my pack so I could have more room and weight for other things.
This time though, I didn’t think about any of those things. I didn’t really care either. This time I was much less concerned about function and far more concerned about fashion. You see, every now and then people tell me I look like a teenager. Every time this happens I think to myself, “Cate, you have got to stop wearing jeans and a t-shirt,” because every time I do people think that I am younger than I am, and somehow I think that’s a reflection of my maturity, and therefore my respectability. Perhaps that’s a bit of a jump, but that’s the thought process anyway.
So, I turn up in Dunedin with far more clothes than I probably need. At least I thought I did. Suitcase after suitcase went around the conveyer belt, the number of people standing around waiting got smaller and smaller, and my suitcase still didn’t arrive.
One of the ladies at the counter offered me a ‘Feminine Hygiene Overnight Pack’ while the other checked the system to see where my suitcase was.
I had had a connecting flight in Wellington. I hopped on the plane and my suitcase stayed behind. I had arrived in Dunedin at 8pm, the last flight from Wellington for the day.
I spent the night at a friend’s place, just me and my carry on – which was next to useless. Who needs a laptop, a couple of books, and some biscuits when you don’t have pyjamas?
In my Goodie Bag from the airline I had a plain white t-shirt, size XL. I have never loved a t-shirt so much in my life.
This wee incident reminds me of the time Jesus says;

“Why worry about clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?”

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”  (Matthew 6: 28-34)
This little story was true for me as I was sleeping in my extra large t-shirt, wondering if my suitcase would arrive the next day and I’d have clean clothes to wear.
This was true for me when I arrived at the Knox Centre for Ministry and Leadership and was worrying about being an Intern, and maybe even being a Minister one day.
I was worrying about a day other than today. Today has its own trials and triumphs.
Atticus Finch, a character from the novel ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird’, was right when he said to his daughter, “it’s not time to worry yet, Scout”.  
I don’t know if you are worried, but if you are, you don’t need to be anymore; your heavenly Father knows all your needs, and he will give you everything you need.
It’s almost as if Jesus was saying to me, “believe me when I say that I care about you. I care about you because I love you. And I love you because I love you. You don’t have to earn it. You don’t have to prove that you are worthy or respectable. You just have to respond.”
In a sense, I worrying about what I would ‘wear’ – figuratively.  It was about the kind of person I am now, and the kind of person I want to become as I am continue along this process of formation. It was about the kinds of things I was wearing from my current wardrobe full of characteristics and personality traits – the good, the bad and the ugly – and the kinds of things I need to wear as I continue to seek to be Christ-like. The words Colossians 3 encourage me, saying:
 So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It's your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” (The Message)

Perhaps love is like a plain white t-shirt; a basic all purpose garment.

So, let us throw open our wardrobe doors, let us clear out our closets, and;

When our caring tears apart at the seams, may we be clothed with Christ’s compassion
When our kindness is stained, may we be clothed with Christ’s kindness.
When our humility wears out, may we be clothed with Christ’s humility.
When our gentleness gets grubby, may we be clothed with Christ’s gentleness.
When our patience wears thin, may we be clothed with Christ’s patience.

When our strength can’t be found, may we be clothed with Christ’s strength.
When our love gets left behind at the last place we were at, may we be clothed with Christ’s love.

At St Paul’s we sing this song with our kids. The lyrics go like this:

Look at the birds of the air,
and the flowers of the field.
The God who cares for them,
he cares for us.

It’s not time to worry yet, Scout.

You are clothed in Christ.

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