Ten years ago, I bought a piece of luggage I absolutely loved! I had watched and waited for it to go on sale. I anticipated its arrival and was so excited when the shipment came. I remember opening every zipper, inspecting every pocket and rolling my new city bag to make sure it was easy to handle. A duffle on wheels was the perfect bag for all my ministry travels.
I noticed, the first few trips I took, every ding or scrape inflicted by the airlines, the cruise ship or me as I loaded and unloaded from my car. I noticed the slightest smudge. I loved and cared for my new city bag and it served me faithful through many ministry miles.
This past weekend, I packed my city bag and went to the beach for a writing retreat. It was just me so instead of unpacking and stowing my luggage, I left it on the bedroom bench. As I walked by, I noticed something I had missed for the quite a while. Somehow, I had quit noting the smudges, dings and scrapes. What I saw this weekend amazed me. The duffle handles had completely deteriorated, the stress points on all the zippers were frayed and the fabric had become threadbare in the corners and folds. What had happened to my beloved city bag? Why had I not noticed the extent of wear and tear it had suffered? For many years I had used it from memory instead of taking time to examine it with every use. Life had changed my city bag!
My relationship with my city bag is like many of our personal relationships. In the beginning we love and adore our spouse, our children, a friend, or a close relative. We get comfortable and base our interactions on what we remember, instead of what we could see through the eyes of love and care. We let the demands of life ding and smudge our relationships, even our connection with the Lord!
In the scripture, there are many references to care that include anxiety. There are also many situations where care means safety, love and protection. Remember when Martha said to Jesus in Luke 10:40, “But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” She was saying protect me and keep me safe from overload.
In 1 Peter 5:7 the meanings are used together when Peter says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. The second use of care means God is paying attention to the things that matter to you! He’s looking out for life’s wear and tear – the dings, the smudges and the deterioration of your life.
I always love reading Matthew 6:25-33 NLT, for it assures me that God cares and is always watching out for me. “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith? “So, don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” God is so faithful to care for us! This past weekend I took some time to pray and ask the Lord if there were relationships in my life that I had not cared for. I repented and determined to love and care for those that are precious to me. I became resolute to make the effort needed to preserve those relationships from the dings, smudges and scrapes of life. Will you do the same?