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Wednesday Devotional: The Barns I Try to Build

Luke 12: 16-21

I fool myself all the time by hiding my worry from myself. I noticed this as I prepared to go on a trip this week. I was agitated and unsettled over a couple of uncertainties regarding the trip. Once I talked to a couple of people to acquire more certainty (or so I thought), I settled down and relaxed about the trip.

Upon reflection, I realized that once again, I had worried too much about the future. Thorough planning is one thing, but control is another. It's a bit hard to explain the difference, but it's clear in my mind. Thorough planning isn't obsessive, but control is. This week I realized once again that I allowed my worry and need for control to take charge of my feelings about my trip.

I also fool myself for not seeing myself in Jesus' Parable of the Rich Fool. It seems to be all about acquiring wealth and then living comfortably. At its root, however, this tale shows the Rich Fool trying to acquire certainty. Read it again from Luke 12: 16-21 in that light:

And Jesus told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

I try to store up certainty. What do you try to store up? What worries you about the future? How do you insure yourself against that worry? Do you truly gain control in the process?

You see, here's the punchline of the story about my trip: These two people assured me of how things were going to work out. They were both wrong! I still had to try to connect the dots once I arrived at my destination; in fact, things may have been worse than I imagined because they steered me wrong! I was able to quickly recover the situation, but my search for certainty and control was fruitless. I experienced some short-term happiness because I thought my worries were gone, but I eventually experienced short-term unhappiness because things worked out differently.

So now, I look in the mirror and think, "You fool! Your worry did you no good, and trying to solve your worry did you no good. What will you do next time?"

Better, with less worry, more serenity, and more trust. I hope.

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