Wednesday, June 09, 2010


Of all of the teachings of Jesus, there's one in particular I find myself turning to again and again. It's in Matthew chapter 6 where Jesus teaches his disciples not to worry about tomorrow, but to seek first the Kingdom of God and trust Him for everything.

On Saturday I received a mysterious package in the mail. It was an unexpected gift from my friend Tim Price. The envelope contained a book by Ray Mayhew called "And Joy Begins to Flower".

In this book I found a section which unpacked some of what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 6 regarding living one day at a time and trusting God with our whole life.

"Even creation itself unfolded one day at a time. Man was created on day six, only to find that his first full day, the seventh, was a day off. He was to begin life by learning that it is to be enjoyed, one day at a time."

I find it interesting to examine the order of creation and man's place in this order. We show up near the end and immediately learn to rest because God has already done everything in advance. Of course, we do know that God did eventually get around to assigning a few tasks to mankind, but that came later. Our first thought should be to rest in Him and only do what He asks us to do - and allow God to do His part.

"One of the keys to maintaining an inner life free from anxiety and stress is to live life in the same units as God gives it to us - one day at a time."

Again, I agree with this bit of practical wisdom from Mayhew's book. At my work I find myself getting stressed out by all of the various projects that are thrown at me on a constant basis. Even though that giant 25 page website needs to be done by Friday, I start to hyperventilate on Monday. Usually I get it done by Wednesday, but the damage is done. I've wasted time worrying and I've endured unnecessary stress.

The words of Jesus are especially comforting:

"Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself." - Matt 6:34

Of course, hearing these things and actually putting them into practice are two entirely different things.

Living every day one at a time is how we were created to live. I've often wondered why this is so hard. Why do I wallow in nostalgia? Why do I spend hours dreaming of the future? Why is it so hard for me to confine my imagination to the present? Maybe because the present isn't as exciting as the past or the future? We tend to glorify the past and idealize the future, forgetting that at one time our past was the present and our future will be experienced in the now.

Mayhew points this out when he observes:

"Today is a big enough chunk of time to do something with, but not so big as to overwhelm us with responsibilities. Yesterday has gone. It's irretrievable. Tomorrow is only conceptual - when it arrives it will be today."


"The temptation of the old is to live in the past - the "good old days". The temptation of the young is to live in the future - "things will be better after graduation, after marriage, after promotion. The danger of both is that we fail to grasp and redeem what lies in our hand - today.

I once had a job working as the Director of Sales and Distribution for Vineyard Music Group. At the time, it was the best job I had ever had in my life. I had a large, private office with a couch, a refrigerator, and a door that locked. I was being paid more money than I had ever earned in my life. I had a title, and I had the power to hire and fire and train a combined team of 20 people. It was the best job I ever had. In fact, I had myself convinced that this job was the reason I had been born and that my career would continue in this trajectory towards infinity.

I was wrong.

After about 3 years I lost that job due to a series of company-wide layoffs after the death of our GM, Chris Wimber. Instead of returning to that lofty place of power and prestige I ended up doing temporary work for a year and a half.

During that time I did everything in my power to get back to that office, and that job, and to return to that career path. God wouldn't open the door.

I can remember attending a church service during that time where the message was about living in the now and not attempting to return to the "good old days" or to always dream of tomorrow. Up until that sermon, I hadn't even admitted to myself that I was living in the past and I had to repent.

I've also listened to people talk about how one day they want to go to China or to Africa to be a missionary and give their lives for the Gospel and serve the poor in India. But often these people end up doing nothing in the here and now to serve the poor or to reach the lost because they are still waiting for the door to open one day when they can do those things "over there". This is an example of how we can live in the hope of tomorrow and totally miss what God wants to do in our lives today.

As Mayhew points out, "Today is the container into which He ladles the grace we need. Today is the platform on which He wants us to demonstrate His adequacy. When tomorrow becomes today the miracle will be repeated."

Don't get so entangled with yesterday, or so enamored with tomorrow, that you miss what God wants to do in our life right now.

Where do you live? Who are your neighbors? Who are your co-workers? This is your mission field. This is where God has sovreignly placed you today. Be a servant where you are now. Touch the people in front of you. Bloom where you are planted.


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