What if I can’t get it all done in time? What if I forget to pack the one medicine we end up most needing in a country without a corner CVS or WalMart? What if our ATM cards don’t work? What if I forget to pay a bill before we leave? What if I haven’t really considered the implications of what we are doing and it changes our lives in a destructive way? What if she has attachment issues? What if my skirts are not long enough? What if I have forgotten how to dance or be silly and simply play? What if I fret more than I giggle? What if we run out of money? What if I can’t figure out how to convert dollars to shillings? What if something happens to someone in my family while we’re gone? What am I neglecting? What am I overlooking? How am I wasting the hours we have now, these last hours as it has always been and never will be, exactly the same, again?
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are you not much more valuable than they?
Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
I am concerned about my kingdom, and I suppose, I should be. My kingdom is perishing, is going out of business, is going bankrupt and is guaranteed to be overpowered by a better one. His kingdom has no end. My kingdom is wide eyed in horror at the possibility of discomfort – what if I forget to pack the kitchen sink and really wish I had my own kitchen sink in a foreign land? Is not His life, this everlasting life, this abundant life in and through the person and work of Jesus more than peanut butter and bug spray (which I hope I don’t forget to pack!)? Aren’t dignity and beauty and honor products which overflow from the heart and not the perfect combination of flattering, practical and modest attire in another culture? Will blisters from new shoes interfere with His kingdom? Will my inability to cover possessive pronouns, cursive or the “scientific principles in simple machinery” thwart God’s progress in training up my children in the way He intends them to go? Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:1-6 Hovering over, around and in all of this anxiety and fear of regret is a real sense of condemnation and looming condemnation. With just the slightest wrong step, I am doomed…it tells me. With just one wrong word, day, or season, irreparable damage will be done. Get it just right, right now, or else. And or else will be really, really bad. The worst kind of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to his purpose.
For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son,
that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.
Who then is the one who condemns? No one.
Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Even my regrettable moments (or seasons or even packing list), it seems, are part of conforming me to the image of His Son. There is no season or danger or discomfort or even vestiges of wickedness in my heart that can separate me from His love and His life. The no condemnation promise isn’t based on some new perfection that I am supposed to have attained but on His perfection in which He covers me. I can trust Him to preserve and encourage His life in my children even when my sin attempts to crush it out of them. I can trust Him to be present with us when the Pepto Bismal runs out. I can trust Him to be loving us and embracing us when the geographical distance between us and all that is familiar feels tangible and heavy. It turns out that nothing is irreparable in Jesus. In fact, in His economy, all forms of death are what lead to abundant life and to Him. What or whom then shall I fear?