For the past few nights, I’ve written Matthew 6:25 (NRSV) in my notebook as a verse of intention for the day.
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?
These words from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount have offered me encouragement as I strive to deepen my faith and understanding during this Lenten journey. Although I find this passage profoundly applicable to my life today, whenever I read this passage from the Gospel of Matthew, I’m mentally transported to a gardenesque nature reserve where I once read this passage aloud with friends.
On a warm and sunny Saturday in autumn, I met two friends in the music building of the college that I attended at the time. My friends and I had just finished eating breakfast or practicing our instruments and longed to create a mini retreat for ourselves. One friend suggested we drive to a nearby nature reserve. The weather conditions begged for such an excursion; so with our Bibles in our hand, we retreated to this place of beauty.
We arrived with no specific agenda. We simply thumbed through our Bibles in search of a meaningful passage for the day and circumstances. “How about we read the Sermon on the Mount?” I suggested. The others responded with interest and willingness. As we read Jesus’ words aloud, I imagined God saying, “You don’t even know how preoccupied you are with the cares and things of this world. You don’t need to devote so much mental energy to these temporal matters. I’m offering you rest from all those cares. Consider matters of more lasting significance! ‘…strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well’ (Mt 6:33, NRSV).” I expect I’ll always remember that mini retreat whenever I read Matthew 6.
Many passages in the Bible, including this one from Matthew, trigger particular memories. In the past, I’ve thought of these memories as somewhat ordinary situations. The experience progressed naturally, and a fitting verse from God’s Word simply marked that experience with added significance. In such scenarios, I play a pretty passive role.
Today I wonder if such scripture associations can only result from naturally progressing situations—ones not initiated by my own efforts. Might I create an occasion to connect scripture with my life experiences? What an interesting experiment: to see if meditating on and applying the themes of a particular scripture verse will awaken a new and lasting memory.