If you know me you know that I have recently taken a keen interest to farming. I grew up and still live in a very agriculturally oriented town, but it wasn’t until I started a job in an almond orchard that I began to see the beauty of agriculture and farming, and how it impacted my life as a Christian.
The scriptures are quite clear that we must always be seeking first God’s kingdom (Matthew 16:33). This seeking is an outflow of our sanctification process, it’s a direct indicator of our increasing love for God and desire to get to know Him more as savior and King. However, This “seeking first the Kingdom” is easier said than done. We live life fast, each day going by faster than the previous, and for some reason we think slowing down to acknowledge God can become detrimental to the course and outcome of the day ahead of us. This conflict between doing what needs to be done (time with the Lord; devotions) and doing what should be done (our daily duties, whatever they may be) can be increasingly stressful when we examine verses such as Matthew 16:25-34, Philippians 4:4-6; and James 4:13-16.
Do Not Be Anxious
The word anxious appears 19 times in the ESV New Testament (7 in Matthew, 5 in Luke, 5 in 1 Corinthians and 2 in Philippians), each time meaning “to brood,” which means to think moodily or anxiously about something. In almost all of these appearances of the word anxious, the author or speaker is commanding the audience to not worry about what will happen. But why shouldn’t we worry? Is worrying sinful? I would contend that while scripture does not explicitly state that worry is a sin, it is sinful to worry for two reasons.
First, when we worry, we disobey the direct command of Christ and His apostle. In Matthew 6 our Lord tell’s us not to worry about anything. In Philippians 4, Paul tells us not to worry about anything. The command is not, “Do not be anxious about this thing and that thing,” the command is, “Do not be anxious about anything.” Some would say that the phrase “do not *insert command here*” isn’t really a command its a suggestion. I need only ask those who agree such a line of thought, what happens when you do what your parents tell you to not do?
Second, worry shows that we do not trust in God’s sovereignty and goodness. Peter expands on the Psalmist’s words when he says in 1 Peter 5:6-8, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you at the right time, casting all your cares on him, because he cares for you. Be sober; be on the alert. Your adversary the devil walks around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (LEB). When we carry the burden of worry, and when we distrust the sovereignty and provision of God, we fall prey to the enemy. We must realize our weakness and frailty if we are to fully trust God.
The man or woman who does not fully trust God, and carries the burdens of worry, still believes that he or she has the strength to do the work of the Almighty. Such an individual must be broken before they can come to realize the frailty of their own soul.
Do not Boast about Tomorrow
Boasting is being satisfied with ones accomplishments. What is wrong with boasting? The answer lies within the definition; it is a satisfaction with the individuals achievements, not the Lord’s achievements in the individual’s life. And James warns about this in James 4, emphasizing that we should not boast about what is to come, but rather hope that the Lord brings what is to come. James claims that “all such boasting is arrogance” meaning when we boast about tomorrow we think ourselves superior to God himself. When we boast about such things we reveal again the we have the strength to do only what the Almighty can do.
The Lord tells Jeremiah, “ Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jer. 9:23-24). Our only hope is the God who carries our burdens and makes provisions for us. (For a great sermon on this text check out Johnathan Edward’s sermon on Procrastination.)
In The Orchard
So what does all this have to do with me working in an almond orchard? The Orchard is the place I go to cast these things on the Lord. The Orchard is where I can come to Christ, and talk with him one on one freely, openly, and obediently. I am not saying I cannot do that anywhere else, I am saying the Orchard is my preferred place to do so. Why? It’s quite. It makes me stop to look around at God’s creation. It gives deeper meaning to the narrative of Romans 1:20. In the Orchard I see the magnificence of God and all of a sudden, when I realize His power, majesty, and sovereignty, my anxieties are gone. When I realize His glorious might I soon reason that I have no reason to boast before a Holy God unless my boasting is in Him.
Find Your Orchard
The Orchard is where I meet the Lord. It’s where I can fulfill my created purpose all to His glory. So my question to the reader is this: Where is your Orchard? Where do you go to cast your anxieties on the Lord and to realize his Majesty? Is it a room, a store, a beach? It does not even have to be a physical location. Is it in conversation with friends and family? Is it in time with a spouse? Find where you receive Him most and spend time there.
As I close I want to add the in all these “Orchards”, we should find God most in His Word. We should be taking His Word “into the Orchard” each time we go.
So go, visit the orchard. Be in awe of the God of the Bible.