Releasing Our Worries

“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?”  Matthew 6: 26-27


Last spring I went out to the porch to water my plants and discovered that a mama bird had made her nest in the middle of my hanging impatiens.  Inside the nest were four tiny eggs. There was a flower pot setting on a table on the porch, so I transferred the nest to the pot.  Thankfully, the mama bird wasn’t upset with the change in plans, and a few weeks later,  four, fluffy baby birds hatched.  I had a front row view of them from my living room window to watch the mama bird fly in and out, feeding and caring for her babies.

 

A few weeks after the eggs hatched I sat down on the couch and looked out the window to enjoy a few minutes of bird watching.  The baby birds were chirping and moving about, more active than in previous days.  Suddenly one of the birds jumped out of the flower pot onto the table, then immediately jumped down to the porch.  I felt panicked!  I had to get it back into the nest!  I ran into the kitchen and grabbed a large spoon then ran out to the porch.  Gently, I scooped the baby bird up with the spoon and “poured” it out into the nest.  As soon as it landed, two other birds jumped out!  It was my fault!  I had scared them all, and now I’d never be able to make them stay in the nest.  I began to worry that the mama wouldn’t know where they were, that they would get eaten by a cat, that I had created this tragedy.

 

The last bird jumped out of the nest.  All four of them were now hopping aimlessly around the porch.  Even if I could get them back into the nest, it would be useless.  They would just hop right back out.  I stood back and watched as the first bird hopped right off the porch.  Running to look over the railing, I saw something unexpected.  The baby bird was starting to fly!  It was taking brief flights, flapping its wings wildly.  Hop, hop, flap, flap, fly!  Over and over, testing its skills.  Seeing their sibling moving out into the world, the other birds one by one followed suit until they were all up in the tall pine trees.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to trust what we don’t understand.  Change can happen in the blink of an eye.  We make our plans, move through our day, then suddenly something happens that changes everything.  Fear grips us and we either become immobile or we work passionately to set things back in order….our order….our plans.

 

God tells us not to worry. What can we change by worrying? He’s got this!  If He cares so much for the birds (and the bugs and yes, even the spiders), how much more does He care for us?  Even when we don’t understand why things happen the way they do, we can trust that our Father will give us what we need to deal with any situation.  Trust Him enough to move forward, confidently knowing that His timing is perfect, and He will be there to teach us to soar above any obstacle we face.

Forgetting What Lies Behind

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

Have you ever tried to relive a memory?  

As I grow older, I find myself looking back a bit more than usual.  Thinking back on the days when my children were little…snuggles, vacations, holidays, summers…those moments I would love to relive, to experience once again. I also spend more time thinking back to my childhood.  For a few years now I’ve thought a lot about my summers at Camp Mary Atkinson, a Girl Scout camp I enjoyed for three summers during my childhood. 

 

This past Memorial Day, Michael and I were traveling back from a weekend at Harmony House Inn in New Bern, NC. We had just pulled into Selma when I said, “The Girl Scout camp I went to is in Selma. I would love to go by there one day.”  My husband seriously loves to make me happy.  And he is just the laid-back kind of person who is never in such a big hurry that he can’t enjoy a spur-of-the-moment change in plans.  After a few adjustments to the Garmin and the discovery that Camp Mary Atkinson was less than a mile off our route, I found myself riding through the campgrounds after a thirty-seven year absence.

 

We drove through Raccoon Loft.  This was where I spent two weeks in 1973 and two weeks in 1974.  The tents were the same as I remembered! There’s no way they could have been the same tents, but everything looked the same….only smaller.  I was bewildered at how close all of the tents were to each other.  And as an 11 year old, the trek to the bathroom (at night with a flashlight and a fear that a bear would eat me) seemed so much farther!

 

Next we pulled into the Lady’s Slipper unit where I stayed in 1975.  Here we got out and walked around a bit, me trying to piece together where “my tent” was and who my roommates had been.  Once again the realization that my memory of the size of things was way off! 

Lady’s Slipper Unit

 

 


Our last stop was at the lake where campers went swimming and canoeing. Michael stood at the edge of the woods where we came in while I walked all the way out to the water and onto the dock.  Sweet memories! I learned to swim here!  I remembered the red, white, and blue swim caps we wore to identify our swimming levels.  I remembered buddy checks and racing to grab my buddy’s hand. remembered the big campfire we had on our last night and setting sail on the water my milk carton sailboat lit up with a single candle.  And crying.  Crying because we all knew that our time together was ending, and when you’re 13, that’s a big deal. 

Down by the Lake



I looked around a bit more then stopped once again by the dock.  “Lord, help me rest in this moment and take in the sights and sounds.” I stood there, trying to capture something permanently…. something.  I nearly held my breath.  I looked and listened for a few more minutes then turned to leave.

 

That’s when I had the most significant moment of our whole weekend.


Michael was still standing by the woods, arms crossed, relaxed, a knowing smile a bit crooked on his face.  Walking towards him, I suddenly understood the tug-of-war between the past and the future.  The here-and-now is a walk of faith I take each day.  I don’t put my trust in a past that is at best a dim memory that must be explored and sorted out to have meaning. That something that I was trying to recapture wasn’t a memory…it was a feeling.  Memories will never bring back the feelings of those moments.  It’s fun and heartwarming to reminisce, but I don’t need faith to believe my camp days were wonderful.  

 

When Paul tells us in Philippians 3:13-14 to forget what lies behind, surely he didn’t expect us to be able to snap our fingers and put things out of our minds.  The word forget more clearly means to neglect.  He’s telling us not to sit around dwelling on the past! We need to get up and move forward, walk out our faith daily.  Stop dwelling on past mistakes, stop nursing past hurts, stop begrudging past disappointments! Faith is knowing that God will use all of our failures to help someone else.   Faith is trusting that our pain will ultimately be used for our good. Faith is believing that people can change. 

 

 

Yes, it was fun to reminisce, but I didn’t leave feeling any differently about my camp days.  However, I did have a renewed appreciation for my husband and an anticipation of hope for my future.  The only feeling I carried away from Camp Mary Atkinson was a feeling of being tremendously blessed!