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The sun was shining — and it was a surprise.
We have had really changeable weather lately -- a weekend in the low 80s followed by rain and a low of 35. The next day, though, brought sunshine, almost blinding, as I backed my car out of our driveway to go to work.
It was a surprise, in part, because I had paid no attention to the weather forecast.
I appreciate weather warnings, and I know thunderstorms and tornadoes in my part of the country can cause death and destruction. But there must be a difference between emergency preparedness and perpetual anxiety.
In recent years, I have interviewed several people whose homes have been destroyed by tornadoes. Two of them told me how warnings on local television influenced their actions.
One woman told me she and her husband and son came down from their second floor bedroom area and found shelter under the stairway just as the upper portion of their home was blown away.
Another person told me of seeking shelter – again because of a television warning – then being able to see the sky from her basement staircase.
The stories led me to think about a place where my young family and I used to live, in West Frankfort, Ill. We rented a house there on a residential street with friendly neighbors.
Our house was not of sturdy construction, you might say. (Actually, anybody would say that, and be a lot more critical of the flimsy nature of the one-story building.)
We had two bedrooms – one for us and one for our newborn son – along with a living room and kitchen. That was about all there was. Mainly, in what was and is an area known for threatening tornadoes, what we did not have was a basement.
A family down the street had a more substantial home, as I recall. Its main feature, as far as I was concerned, was that it did have a basement. And even more important for our family, the residents of this more substantial house were very welcoming and hospitable. We knew that whenever there was a threat of a tornado, we were welcome to come to their house for shelter and relative safety.
There was never an occasion when we needed to accept their hospitality, but just knowing that we could made all the difference in the world.
* * *
One of my favorite Scripture passages comes from Matthew’s Gospel, the verses about not being anxious about tomorrow, because tomorrow will have anxieties of its own. I know that some days bring worries, some days bring joy. Perhaps that is why I can revel in the sunshine of a new day, surprised and gladdened by the unexpected gift from God, the warmth and beauty of a spring day.
But actually, there is more to that passage than I usually recall.
So do not worry and say, 'What are we to eat?' or 'What are we to drink?' or 'What are we to wear?'
All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.
I have to say, that if we are to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” we probably are expected to do more than to look out the window or down the driveway.
I am beginning to understand that seeking the kingdom requires more than seeing. It requires us to make some decisions and to take some actions.
When we lived in the home without a basement or shelter, who was my neighbor? It was the family that invited us to take shelter in their own home.
We relied on the keen weather eye of an experienced observer -- but it was a neighbor who gave us the promise of shelter.
My hope is that more and more of my neighbors would take the time to offer greater hospitality to those who are lacking security – or livelihood or food or clothing.
Then together we would take whatever actions are needed to make sure that there is no need to worry about tomorrow.
That would make a difference!
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