My family is small in comparison to others.
My mother was an only child, so no aunts or uncles there as well as no first cousins. My father was the youngest in his family and when he passed away at 90 years of age, all of his brothers and his sister were also deceased. So I have no living aunts or uncles.
In addition to that, every one of my first cousins was older than I was since I was the last cousin born. And now all but one are also deceased.
So I only have this one cousin left. Growing up, he was my favorite cousin and I’ve always felt a special kinship with him. Maybe it’s because he was the closest in age to me (even though he’s seven years older) and most of the other cousins were old enough to be my parents. Or maybe it’s just because we were the youngest in the family. Or maybe it’s because we just seem connected.
Cousin and I don’t get to see each other very often even though he and his wife don’t live too far from me. But when we do manage to run into one another here and there, it’s like we can’t stop talking.
His grown children and grandchildren live far away from our hometown just like some of mine do. So Cousin and I spend some time chatting and catching up on how the kids are all doing and what’s new in their lives.
Since he has done a lot of research about our family genealogy and I’m also very interested in that, we discuss that quite a bit as well. He has even visited the place in jolly ol’ England from where our family came and I find that fascinating. Cousin is a wealth of information on the subject and I always enjoy when he shares what he’s learned with me.
But then we get to reminiscing about days gone by as well. Since he is a bit older, he remembers family stories that I don’t know or that happened when I was too young to remember.
Just last week, my cousin and his gracious wife attended a social function where Papa and I also just so happened to be present. And after the hugs and handshakes, we got an opportunity to sit down and chat. And chat. And chat.
So much to talk about and not enough time to do so is how it felt. One of the comments my cousin made struck me as particularly poignant and it has stuck with me ever since.
He has had some serious health issues in the last few years which culminated in major surgery. He seems fine now, but I do believe his health concerns caused him to consider his mortality and changed his outlook on life somewhat.
He told me he’s really questioned himself over the way he lived his life when he was in his younger decades. Don’t we all do so when we arrive in the fall and winter seasons of life?
We start looking back over the years we’ve passed through and wonder if we’ve done enough. If we’ve lived enough.
If we’ve made an impact in someone’s life.
If we chased all the wrong elusive butterflies like prosperity, social status, impressive careers, material possessions, or whatever else we thought was important.
Did our lives make a difference? Did we fulfill a purpose here on this earth? And if we consider all of those things we worried and fretted over as we journeyed through life, did they really matter?
Even those aspects of life we may have neglected can prove a bit worrisome as we reflect back over years past. And worry tends to become a focus for the future as well.
Pondering over my cousin’s remark and considering all of the uncertain aspects of the future I find myself stewing over, I’m reminded of what Jesus tells me in the book of Matthew.
“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.” ~ Matthew 5:25-34
As He always does, Jesus speaks truth. Why do we waste our time worrying?
I must remind myself it’s futile worrying about the past. What’s done is done. Finished. I can’t change it by worrying or by wishing I would have lived it differently. Only through God’s grace in the gift of a Savior can our slates be wiped clean from past wrong doings.
Likewise, it’s in vain to worry about the present. My God will provide all I need and I must focus on doing His will, seeking His kingdom and His righteousness. That means I should live this time of my life with purpose and concentrate on what the Lord leads me to do and in the direction He guides me.
And what about the future? I do tend to fret about what may happen, but I must remember the words of my Savior: “Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?”
Tomorrow will come. Who knows what it may bring. But I place my trust and faith in a Savior who will see me through whatever happens.
I am certain I’m on the right track because as I contemplated this idea and started composing this post, several quotes about worrying appeared on my social media news feed.
And then as I sat in Sunday morning worship at our church, our pastor, in his message, used other scriptures about anxiety and worry that had crossed my mind while I was working on this post.
Coincidence? I think not. God always lets me know when I’m on the right track.
“Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” ~ unknown