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As Indigenous people we often see ourselves connected with nature more than the average person. This is why one can see so many animals as part of our ceremonies and artwork. As an Indigenous person who’s also a follower of Jesus, I love to read Scripture and see how it applies to my life. So as the new year started, I was stopped in my tracks when I came across the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25-34.
As we all move forward into another new year, it’s important to get focused so we can all become what God intended us to be within the kingdom of God. My ancestors felt a connection to nature and saw that there were lessons in life within the world of nature. They learned life lessons from nature, and these lessons became part of the value system of our people. This is what excites me about being an Indigenous person and being a believer and follower of Jesus: I see so many similarities in the two belief systems.
This lesson that comes from Jesus tells us not to worry or be anxious about eating, drinking, or what to wear. Jesus says that he takes care of the birds of the air, and although they don’t plant or sow they are taken care by the hand of the Creator Jesus. Then Jesus says that the flowers of the field also are taken care of by the hand of the Creator. They are taken care of with such detail that even King Solomon in all his splendor wasn’t dressed so finely. Then the lesson ends with the main point, which is to seek the kingdom of God and the way of Jesus first. Then after you seek the kingdom of God first, all your basic needs will be taken care of. Yes, you still have to plan, and you still have to wake up every morning ready to serve the Father and his kingdom through active service.
This also reminds me of what the Apostle Paul said in one of his prison letters called Philippians. In Philippians 4:6, Paul reminds us to not be anxious about anything, but to pray about everything instead, and when you pray, do it with a heart of thankfulness, as you lay down your requests. Then step back and see what God will do. This is sometimes easier said than done, but yet we are still told to do it. We are told to give our lives completely to the Creator, and let him take care of the rest.
My Christian therapist once said that a certain amount of anxiety is needed to reach our goals. I agree with her. In other words, we still work, plan, and budget our time and resources, but we don’t allow these anxieties and work to overtake our lives and therefore find ourselves running our engines on our own steam. We are to seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and justice will shine through our lives.
The lesson from Matthew also talks about how the grass of the field is dressed in beauty, even though it is thrown in the fire after it has served its purpose. Then Jesus tells us not to be like the nations, the people who don’t believe in God and his son Jesus. Don’t be like them because their faith is so weak. Put your faith in Jesus and live for him, and let him take care of these things for you. Look at the birds, the flowers, and the grass, and learn from them.
I believe that Indigenous people did a fairly good job at this before their hunting and gathering cycles were interrupted from the increase of population to North America. There were also times within history that access to food and clothing was scarce, especially during periods such as the great depression in the 1930s. So learning to lean on God to provide was a great act of faith during these times for all people. Yet God’s Word remains the same—and the truth within it. Jesus’ teaching is for all people at all times and all places.
Whether you're Indigenous, or not, I want to encourage you to go through 2022 learning lessons that come from nature and the Bible. Nature is all around us. In many places in the world right now, that includes cold weather and snow. Yet do not the birds still have to live during the winter? Are there not dead flower and grass seeds laying, resting in the soil right now, waiting until springtime, so they can burst forth and display their beauty before the world? The answer is yes. Yes, that is true, and I’ll add that these truths can sprout out of your life right now.
Let’s all journey through 2022 and focus on doing what Creator Jesus is asking you to do. Building his father’s Kingdom. Building up righteousness and justice and then stepping back and letting the glory of God shine in and through your lives. As God’s glory shines through the flowers and the grass, and as food, drink, and clothing are provided for you, give yourself more and more to what really matters and what will last for eternity. Learn from the birds and the flowers, and reduce the worry in your life. This worry won’t add years to your life; the doctors say worry will only shorten it. Let’s not shorten our lives; let’s shorten the worry. I know you can do it. Give it a try. Decrease your worry and allow his righteousness and justice to increase.
About the Author
Parry Stelter is originally from Alexander First Nation that is part of Treaty Six Territory. He’s a Sixties Scoop Survivor. He’s an author, speaker, writer, scholar, workshop facilitator, ‘Blanket Exercise’ facilitator, pastor, chaplain, and ambassador of the Gospel and ambassador of his fellow Indigenous People. Visit his website at www.wordofhopeministries.ca