Sitting On My Front Porch Swing
Paul Tautges has served Immanuel Bible Church in Sheboygan, Wisconsin as pastor since 1992. He is also an adjunct professor of biblical counseling and conference speaker. Paul has authored eight books including Counsel One Another, Comfort Those Who Grieve, The Discipline of Mercy, and Brass Heavens. He is also the editor of the popular Help! discipleship counseling booklet series (24 titles). Paul is a NANC Fellow and a Council Board member of the Biblical Counseling Coalition. He and his wife Karen are the parents of ten children. Paul blogs regularly at counselingoneanother.com.
- 2013 May 30
It’s my day off, and spring has finally arrived in eastern Wisconsin, so I am able to do one of my favorite things---spend the early morning hours on our front porch swing. With coffee to my left, and Bible to my right, I am thinking through Jesus’ teaching on anxiety in Matthew 6:25-34. In between the sound of the lawn mower at the funeral home across the street, and the cars and school buses driving by, the chirping birds are telling me something. “Trust God,” they are saying. “Do not be anxious for your life,” they repeat, as I also admire the beauty of my wife’s fire-orange and white tulips mingled between the two-tone hasta given to us by a good friend who is now with Jesus.
Anxiety Is a Worship Disorder
I jump into Jesus’ teaching at verse 25, which begins with “For this reason,” a phrase that connects me back to His statement about it being impossible to serve two masters. This reminds me that anxiety is primarily a worship disorder. Since God designed my heart to worship Him alone, anxiety seeks to create double-mindedness within me and, therefore, the greatest need of my heart is the constant discipline of the exclusive worship of God. Keeping the Lord first and foremost in my mind excludes anxiety from entering in. But how do I do that...practically speaking?
How the Birds & My Wife’s Tulips Counsel Me
To confront my anxiety—my worship disorder—and direct me back to fixing my mind on the Lord alone Jesus directs me to look at the birds of the air and the lilies of the field. As I listen and admire I hear their counsel.
The birds say to me in unison, “We don’t sow the fields and fill our barns with grain, yet we receive our daily food from our Creator. He feeds us. Remember, you are also a creature, but you are unlike us. You are made in the image of God and, therefore, are more valuable to God than we are. Trust Him. He will not fail you.”
One bird sings, “I am a sparrow and my Creator has a plan for my short life. He knows when I will fall to the ground according to His plan (Matthew 10:29). Remember, you are also a creature, but you are unlike me. You are a member of the human race---the pinnacle of God’s creative handiwork (Psalm 8). Our Creator says to you, “Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).
A bright orange tulip with yellow streaks and flared petals quietly whispers, “Look at me. Look at my Designer clothing. Not even King Solomon’s robes could hold a candle to mine. Remember, you are a creature too, but you are unlike me. You are made in the image of our glorious Creator. I will shrivel and die in a couple weeks, but in Christ you will live forever. Trust Him. He will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Together, all God’s creatures sing in one mighty chorus: “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised. O, ye of little faith do not be anxious. Your heavenly Father knows all that you need. His care for you is greater than any of your cares. Look to Him and your anxieties will be carried away like fluffy dandelion seeds in the wind.”