Matthew 26:25-33 (NSRV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
For the past 35 years, my family has been blessed by the presence of our housekeeper, Mae. Mae has watched as my children became adults, my parents passed way, then my husband. She was also there for me when my children started their careers, married their spouses, and bore my grandchildren. Once, she was even there when our Golden Retriever had nine puppies. Upon seeing the litter, she exclaimed, “Mrs. Roe, how come they all look alike?!” That was the wit and wisdom of Mae.
In her own life, Mae experienced some joys and sorrows, too. Her mother lived to 101, and Mae was largely responsible for her care. Just as routinely as Mae came to my house to clean and iron, she tended to her ailing mother and never complained. Along the way, there was a grandson who dropped out of high school and got into trouble. Mae prayed regularly for his well-being; eventually, he turned out all right. A situation that she could not reverse, though, was her daughter’s death well before her time.
What were some of the situations that made Mae’s life joyful? Much as Matthew’s scripture instructs us, Mae did not worry about her life, what she would eat or what she would wear. As a child of God, she knew that her heavenly Father would provide. Mae attended church faithfully and attended a Bible study. Her faith manifested itself with me on many occasions, but a particular one comes to mind: A number of years ago, Jim Moore asked me to deliver the sermon on Lay Sunday. When Mae learned from a fellow member and friend that I was going to speak, she excitedly told me, “Whoever the spirit lands on, that one has to preach!” She is the one who should have been in the pulpit that day.
As many days, weeks, months, and years that Mae came to my house went by, I never once went to hers. Because she drove a nice car (a gift from her children), her house, in my mind, was probably nice, too. Imagine my surprise when I learned that the City of Houston was replacing Mae’s flooring and walls following the devastating floods of Hurricane Harvey. Crushed by feelings of humiliation, I realized that Mae was living at a subsistence level to which I could not relate. Mae acted with the assurance that God provided for her: her life was more than food, her body more than clothing. Mae strove first for righteousness, and God saw to it that all that she needed came her way. Mae is a woman of God, and she continues to teach me about reliance on God and has made a profound impact on me and my faith.
Gracious, heavenly Father, thank you for the assurance that you will take care of us. There will always be food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our heads and a floor under our feet. You have not only given us the gift of provisions but also the gift of salvation. We are so grateful. Bless us as we strive for righteousness and the promise of your kingdom. Amen.