Duty or Delight?

“Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Jesus shared those words as part of what we call the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:34). Commenting on that verse Matthew Henry observed: “There is scarcely any one sin against which our Lord Jesus more largely and earnestly warns His disciples, or against which He arms them with more variety of arguments, than the sin of disquieting, distracting, distrustful cares about the things of life, which are a bad sign that both the treasure and the heart are on the earth.”

John Gill said of the same text: “It is very wrong to anticipate trouble, or meet it before hand; if it was for no other reason but this, that every day’s trouble is enough, and should not be needlessly added to, by an over concern what shall be done for tomorrow; or how shall the necessities of it be answered, or the trials of it be endured.”

This morning we all came into the office shivering and at least in partial disbelief that it’s so cold. Pastor Tommy strolled in like the little boy who won the spelling bee: “Did you see the carpet of leaves in front of the Carson Foyer? It’s amazing.” Indeed it was. And it hit me like a ton of bricks: I must not miss the moment. Yes, those leaves need to be cleaned up. But not now. For now they’re aglow with a short-lived yellow that will take your brfall yelloweath away if you’ll let it. Kind of like “the lilies of the field.” It’s the song of God’s glory, again. Don’t miss it.

Which brings me to the trial (using Gill’s word) of leaf raking. Still with me?

There’s much to love about fall, but I’ll bet that raking leaves isn’t your favorite autumnal pastime. I know that we loved jumping in those great big piles of leaves when we were children, but that was an anomaly, was it not? The actual raking part seems often so futile. One sturdy gust of wind, and the landscape looks like we never touched it. There seems to be no end to the debris, and to the seasonal job of relentless raking.

I’m edge-of-my-seat curious. Does Christ’s prohibition against worry include the fear that my lawn might not look like a golf course every day?

Henry nailed me. Disquieted. Distracted. Distrustful.

Maybe he nailed you too. Because I’ve been watching all you guys with your fancy schmancy lawnmower-turned-leaf-sucker-chopper-eater machines. I stared in horror as one man went round and round on a parking lot until he utterly destroyed every leaf in sight. I felt like a kid getting sick on a ride at the fair (remember the Tilt-A-Whirl?), and I wasn’t even doing it myself. The dust cloud that man created could have choked a horse. If there is global warming, that dude caused it.

So I did some simple research and some even simpler math. Since Google seems to be the authority on everything, I went there to find out that there are approximately 200,000 leaves on one oak tree. When you figure out how many trees there are per acre (on average) in our neck of the woods, the numbers become more than overwhelming. In some of the more forested areas around here, they’re astronomical – like 250 trees per acre! I know all the trees aren’t oak trees, but I don’t have time to get more specific. You’ll get the point anyway. Take a parcel of some 300 acres – even if only half are “wooded” – and you end up with about 40,000 trees. You guessed it: 8 billion leaves.

I’m worn out just thinking about it.timehop leaves

Still commenting on Christ’s words, Henry went on to write: “But there is a carefulness about temporal things which is a duty, though we must not carry these lawful cares too far.” Therein lies my problem. Maybe yours too. It’s not that I can’t be concerned about my lawn. (I have a duty.) It does need to be tended. It’s just that I take things too far. (I too often miss the delight.)

After all, the only way to get through an afternoon of leaf raking is to make certain that you never look up and see how many leaves are still hanging on!

Pastor Charles

P.S. I took the first photo this morning. Anna Shelton snapped the second photo on November 13, 2013 at 8:36 a.m. Yes, one year ago today. (We compared notes this afternoon.) The moral of the story is this: Don’t worry too much about the leaves. We may not be here next year, but they will.


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One comment on “Duty or Delight?
  1. Jo Ranval says:

    I really like this. I was nailed with the 3 D’s also. I am currently reading Margaret Feinberg’s book WonderStruck. I have been looking at the leaves with the wonder of God’s creation. So, why do we fret? We should focus on the delight of spending time with God’s creation not the duty of having a spotless lawn. When they return I delight again in my Lord’s creation. This is some of my best spent time, just God and me in his creation.

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