Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Stop Worrying - It doesn't help!

Ever since I can remember, I have been a foodie and collector of restaurants, always seeking a novel experience. In a previous life, traveling was part of my job description and dining on an expense account a perk. The places I remember most are the ones with the best food, service, and atmosphere. For instance,  Keen’s Chophouse in New York City, served a calves liver steak that was out of this world, and after dinner I could call for tobacco and my churchwarden pipe, which hung from the ceiling along with those of Babe Ruth, Teddy Roosevelt, Will Rogers, and many thousands more. 

The Longfellow House in Pascagoula, MS,  where the poet presumably wrote some of his best stuff, served a Crabmeat au gratin you would die for. Who says you don’t mix cheese with seafood? Then there was; She Crab Soup at the Kitty Knight House on Maryland’s Eastern Shore; Prime Rib and strawberry shortcake at Boston’s Durgin Park; Pompano en papillote at Antoine's and  Eggs Hussarde for breakfast at Brennan’s both in New Orleans. 

Each fine dining experience left a lasting impression, but one changed my life. 

That one dining experience had a spiritual impact that kept drawing me back. The setting was so exceptional that I don't even remember the food, although I am sure it was great.

Two miles inland from Kaneohe Bay on the windward side of Hawaii’s island of Oahu lies the Haiku Gardens and its restaurant, Haleiwa Joe’s. Entering the restaurant, the hostess will lead you around an enormous salad bar - with many tropical fruits and salad mixings - then if you are lucky - out to the lanai where your table overlooks the gardens below and the mountains in the distance. The gardens are set on the rim of a long extinct volcano, where bright colorful flowers grow wild in the lush jungle. 

Everything not blooming was a brilliant shade of green. I had never seen the variety of colors outside a flower show. Hundreds of black Mynah birds, boldly visited the diners and enjoyed the crumbs on the floor. Some even landed on tables and attempted to eat off plates. About one hundred below, on the floor of the crater, was an acre of clearing. The grass in the clearing was neatly cut. The gardener had piled grass clippings in one corner waiting burning.

 In the clearing was a small pond with a gazebo. A foot bridge allowed people to walk out to the gazebo. On that first visit, there was a wedding in the gazebo, and we had a ring-side seat. 

The entire vista felt like landing in the Garden of Eden. Immersed in the peace and beauty of the setting, Jesus' instruction in the Gospel of Luke Chapter 12 came to mind;
Then Jesus said to his disciples: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the [MYNAH’s]: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 

Jesus prescribes the proper attitude of His followers. It is a warning against worry. He tells them not to worry about their life.

Is this possible?

Fear and worry are intertwined. In these unsettling days there is cause for concern for our health and wellbeing. When there is fear, we worry. When we fear that our needs will not be met, we worry. When we are not in control we worry. Worry is the fear of insufficiency.

Jesus gives us a loving command, “Do not worry!”

We often fail to appreciate what damage worry does in our lives. Research clearly shows that stress deteriorates our immune systems; people under constant or high stress show lower T-cell counts, essential for immune response. Stress has a definite effect fertility. Prolonged stress affects the brain, it makes a person less able to respond to future stress. Stress is also related to sudden heart failure.

We don't have to point out that these are stressful times in our nation and in the world. Everyone feels stressed from time to time, over half of all Americans say they feel stressed out at least once a week. Only ten percent say they never feel stressed.

Myna birds picking up crumbs under my table at Haleiwa Joe’s didn't worry where their next meal was coming from. God sees to it that they have food. If the restaurant closed, they would go back to feeding off the plants and trees in the jungle below.

Worry doesn’t stop because we close our eyes to our circumstances, but because we know a loving God is greater than all our needs. Worry is not productive, the stress it brings in our life does nothing but destroy. Trusting in God makes sense; if He takes such good care of the birds, the flowers, and the grass, won’t He take care of us, His children? Worry can’t make you live longer, and worry can’t make you any taller. If it is futile to worry about small things that are out of our control, it is even more futile to worry about big things even further out of our control.

Instead of worrying, Jesus wants us to have a child-like faith in Him. Children don’t worry about paying the bills, or such things. They live lives of simple trust in their parents. 

God cares for the flowers, but every day is not sun and sweetness for the flowers. If every day was sunny without clouds and rain, the flowers would die quickly.

God’s intention is that your attention be on His kingdom and His treasure, not the treasures of this world. 

And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.     

But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you. 

We can seek God in what we do every day; For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The correlation between where your heart is and where your treasure is isn’t a suggestion; it is a simple fact. If you regard your material possessions as your treasure, then your heart is set here on this earth.

How can we ignore all the worries and seek His kingdom? Do not hold on to any physical thing too tightly, hold on to eternal things.

It was not too long after my first visit to Haiku Gardens that an incident that could have devastated me, tested my renewed faith. I lost my eyesight for almost an hour while on a mission trip, While I have to admit I was concerned, but did not panic. 

Believe that God loves you and wants the very best for you!


  1. That was a rather strange ending to your story. It seems like you should have included it a few paragraphs earlier. Your point was clear. I enjoyed your story.

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