My reading today is Luke 12:22-34 and the prompt is asking me to consider what worries and fears I wish to let go of as I begin this retreat journey.
The reading itself is a familiar gospel text in which Jesus challenges his followers to let go of worry and concern. He says: “Look at the birds of the air and the lillies of the field – if God is taking care of them, how much more will God take care of you.” I have always taken notice of those words – they have always been my take away lines and images of this text. However, there is a danger when we read a text and find that take away image early on our way through it – if an image strikes us at the beginning of a reading it can be easy to miss other gems and highlights because we have been so taken with the image that jumped out first. Make sense? I think I have been guilty of this as I have read this text in previous journeys through Luke’s gospel. In doing so, I have more or less missed the words that jumped out for me today – the words of verse 32:
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your Fathers pleasure to give you the Kingdom…”
Over the course of my faith journey I have often listened as preachers and teachers have spoken about the joy and pleasure God takes in His beloved children. I have a vivid memory of the British preacher, Mike Pilavachi, speaking to a gathering of young people in Belfast, reminding us that God delights over us with singing (Zeph 3:17). It is a beautiful image for sure…but it is also one that, if I am honest, I really struggle with. Perhaps it is the transactional culture of our world, or perhaps it is my upbringing in a place where good old evangelical guilt and shame were always in plentiful supply. Whatever it is, even all these years down the road, and even though I know in my head that God’s love is both full and unconditional, I still wrestle to know or feel in my soul that God takes pleasure in me. That’s why this verse stands out so much – it is a direct challenge to the transactional way I’ve been wired.
What worries and concerns do I want to let go of in this retreat? Honestly, I think it is the concern that I will be the one to get in the way of the Father’s pleasure by refusing to believe and trust in the extent of God’s great love. One of the prayers through all the readings for this week is the prayer for grace enough that I would “trust in God’s personal care and love for me.” May I be open to that grace today, and may i receive it in all the fullness with which God gives it.