In the old ways of the Cherokee, a young man at the age of 14 would go on his spirit quest. His father would lead him into the forest just as it was getting dark. He would tell the boy where he was to sleep and then walk away into the woods. The boy would sit there and hear all of the sounds that nocturnal creatures make at night.
The wide-eyed, young man would sit there alone and wonder what creature might attack him. Just as the morning light would begin to appear, he would look around and discover something very wonderful. The whole night long his father was sitting at a distance watching over him. The boy was instructed not to tell the other boys what had taken place. For they, too, needed to learn the same lesson from their father watching over them. For this is the way our Creator God watches over us.
And he said to his disciples, "Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! -- Luke 12:22-24 (ESV)
(Rev. Dan Lybarger is an IGRC retired clergy member serving as pastor of the Knoxville UMC, Illinois River District.)