“I got it from my mama!” You may be familiar with this brag, but in my particular case, I have to admit that “I stole it from my mama-in-law!”
While we were visiting Blake’s mom over Thanksgiving, I picked up a book on my nightstand, started reading it and adopted it. I’ll have to replace it with a new one because as you know, I like to underline (as instructed in my Soul-Selfie #NoFilter intro) so it has been brutally marked up.
If you listened to my solo podcast a couple of weeks ago, you know of my confession.
I also never want to give it back because it saved my mental, spiritual and emotional health when my son, Berkeley, was in a hit a run accident the night before I left Vegas. Instead of heading back to Illinois, I went straight to LA.
Before I get to the specific entry that has been my lifeline over the past month, let me just tell you a bit about the premise of this daily reader contraband called “All to Jesus.”
The author Robert J. Morgan, when going through an especially hard time in his life, decided to read through the book of I Peter, hoping to get some insight and wisdom from the Rock (Peter) the founder of the first church and one of Jesus’ first (sort of bossy and driven and a touch arrogant) disciples. He came across the verse that many of you have probably heard many times, “Cast all your cares upon Him (God) because he cares for you.” (I Peter 5:7 NIV)
Morgan said that though he had read and heard this verse hundreds of times, this time the little word “all” jumped out at him. It made him curious as to how many times that word is used in the Bible. Can you take a guess as to how many?
That’s a lot.
Morgan reflects, “The Lord doesn’t waste words in His Book…the alls in the book could have easily been left out; yet there they are. Seems it’s one of God’s favorite words. He used it thousands of times, often in passages that would have read nicely without it; yet the all maximizes the meaning to the absolute. It’s the largest little word in the world…”
As a result of studying all the verses referencing “all”, he narrowed it down to 365 and unpacks one a day for us to reflect on.
So, back to my story. I had been reading the book for a few days the morning I got Berkeley’s call. He was in the ER at hospital. He had been hit by a car while walking in a crosswalk to a parking garage in downtown LA the night before.
After I got off the phone, and after crying and praying and packing for my changed flight to LA, I sat down to read and get my bearings.
I had been away from home for 10 days and was already a little anxious about the lack of working, writing and attention I had been giving to the “responsible” parts of my life. At that moment, I had no idea how long I might need to stay in California.
Days? Weeks? Months?
What would happen to all the other areas of my life while I was gone physically and mentally?
The verses Morgan was highlighting that particular day were Matthew 6:32,33:
“The Lord knows you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things will be added you.”
Then he told two specific stories that I am just going to quote word for word because I want you to hear it exactly how he spoke it to me on that day; the day horrific news threatened my serenity in the same way it threatened it when I was told I had Leukemia.
England’s Queen Elizabeth I once asked a British merchant to undertake a missions for the crown. “But your Highness,” said the man, “such a. Long absence will be fatal to my business.” To which the queen replied:
“You take care of my business, and I will take care of yours.”
When the man returned, he found that the queen’s patronage had enlarged his company immeasurably.
Alice Taylor was a missionary to China whose four children were captured by the Japanese and interned in a concentration camp during WWII. Alice suffered galloping anxiety. But she recalled her pastor once putting Matthew 6:33 like this:
“If you take care of the things that are dear to God, He will take care of the things that are dear to you.”
Alice forced herself to focus on the Lord’s work while trusting Him with her cares. In time her children came home safely to the glory of God.
These stories and the paraphrase of Matthew 6:33 allowed me to more easily, and more peacefully, turn over “the cares of this world” to God so I could focus 100% on my son.
I chose to let God manage everything else (isn’t that nice of me!?🙃)
Interestingly, when I returned home and continued to read this entry again and again, I realized God had a new message for me.
Well, maybe not a new message but a new perspective on the same message.
Now I had to work and prepare for Christmas (which was in 4 days) and answer emails and felt pressure (from myself) to write and also embrace time with my daughter and son and husband who were right in front of me.
But I couldn’t get myself to be truly present or engaged because my mind and heart were still connected to the situation in California.
That’s when God showed me that I was to be present and enjoy where He had me for now.
He had some things for me to do here and I was so focused on not being with Berkeley I couldn’t get myself to do them.
These verses whispered that if I took care of the things that were dear to God here in Illinois, indeed, dear to me also, that He would take care of the thing that was dear to me in California; my son and his health and the state of his heart.
My mother-in-law recently asked our family what word they were going to focus on for this new year. I haven’t answered yet, but based on what I have been experiencing and what lessons God has taught me so far, I believe my word will be ALL.
Morgan ends with this question:
What’s your greatest need today? Whatever it is-financial, relational, physical, or emotional-It’s included in that universal all. Jesus said,
“All these things…all these things…all these things.”