Tonight we packed up for a trip. I do this a lot, but it still isn’t automatic. Thinking about what to take for the weather, the planned events, unforeseen needs. Do we have the camera and batteries? Sunglasses and sun screen for my daughter? Things for my work meeting and all the tickets and boarding passes? And on and on it goes. It’s a lot to think about. Even if we try to keep things simple.
It’s easy to get carried away or even anxious about planning . . . being as we can’t actually predict the future. This morning I found a good word about the appropriate differences between anxiety and preparation.
Whether I’m thinking about a trip, the work of teaching or ministry, or a big life decision, it is important to see and practice the difference between anxiety and planning. Luther Smith, professor of church and community at Candler School of Theology has a good word on this in the most recent edition of Weavings.
Jesus’ teaching to “not be anxious about tomorrow” is not an admonition to be indifferent about tomorrow. The future is important to Jesus; it is a time of fulfillment. Jesus even emphasizes the importance of preparation for the future in his parable about the wise bridesmaids who had prepared for an anticipated event and the foolish bridesmaids who were in panic because they were unprepared for it (Matt. 25: 1-13). Tomorrow is not the problem. Being unprepared for tomorrow is a crisis for the present and for the time to come.
Anxiety is not the same as preparation. Anxiety is the consequence of fear about what can or will occur tomorrow, but it is not active readiness for the future. Fear of known and unknown factors that await us in our future rules our emotions to the extent that it functions as a god who inspires anxiety, obsessive self-preservation and cowardice.
For whatever comes tomorrow and tomorrow, God, help us to pack our bags wisely, and then meet us along the way. Surely you will be our most faithful traveling companion.