Living One Day At A Time - The Pattern Of God And A Pattern For Us
Life has a way of distracting us and keeping us away from the moments that God gives us. One issue leads to another issue and the urgent things keep demanding our attention so that the important things are left to later. We end up in a kind of 'survival mode' where we just get through the day and sometimes wish the time away. We can even get to the point that we say when we are done with 'this' then we will start enjoying life.
I have always been a visionary person by nature. I have always been involved in ministry and the things that concern God's kingdom and have been so aware of the eternal dimension. Recently as we have faced our own challenges as a family, I have begun to see that life is not only about tomorrow, but it is more about today and what God wants to do today. Living one day at a time isn't always easy, but it's what God has told us to do. It is His recipe for our lives.
It reminds me of an old hymn:
'Moment by moment, I'm kept in His love,
Moment by moment I've life from above;
Looking to Jesus till glory doth shine;
Moment by moment, O Lord, I am Thine.'
We have a family friend and he told us that he always wrote the following statement in his annual diary: 'There are only two days in my life, this day and that day!' (When I will see Him face to face). This is how we are called to live our lives.
Living In The Past
Many people choose to live in the past. It's almost as though the 'good old days' were the best days and so we live in that place. We all know someone who lives in this way. They can tell you of dates and times and precious and wonderful memories and they almost carry a form of sadness, because they think that the future could never be as good as the past. Living in this way is like dragging dead baggage through the present and into the future. We do have the 'precious memories' of life that add to the rich fabric of life, but how did God tell us to live our lives?
Isaiah 43:18 'Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.'
Living in the past is not the way God designed us to live. In fact we are told to be radical about dealing with the past. The words the Bible uses are 'forget' and 'do not dwell'. God tells us this because in Him we have so much more to look forward to. He wants to do new and wonderful things in our lives.
Isaiah 43:19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.
With the Lord in our lives, the best is yet to come.
Living In The Future
Some people live in the future. They focus on the possibilities and pitfalls that could and may lie ahead. They usually have a goal and they are headed towards that goal.
- When I am finished school - then I will start living.
- When I get my degree - then I will start living.
- When I get married - then I will start living.
- When I have children - then I will start living.
- When the children are out of the house - then I will start living.
- When I retire - then I will start living.
The joy they are longing for is an elusive thing that somehow and somewhere will make itself visible one day out there in tomorrow. The thing about the future is that it is completely unknown and it is never guaranteed. When we live in tomorrow we are truly putting our hope in nothing.
Other people feel compelled to pull tomorrow's cares and concerns into today. They can't just leave it in God's hands, but they have to carry concerns about which they know nothing and burden today with them. When we live in the future our guiding companion can be fear itself. The Lord has not given us the strength for tomorrow today.
Day By Day God Will Provide
In this God provided what the people needed on a daily basis. Each day they could collect and use what there was available. None could be kept for the following day. No amount of what God has provided for a specific day could be hoarded and kept for the next day or later use.
Exodus 16:19-20 Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning." However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell.
What is it that causes us to hoard? I don't know if you have ever met a hoarder, someone who stores up unnecessary and often useless things. It is often done in secret. Hoarding often flows out of fear and forgetfulness about God's faithfulness. Hoarding can exhaust us.
Habakkuk 2:13 '... the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?'
When we lose sight of God and His promised daily provision we can get caught up in this mindset. The antidote is trusting. We need to rest and remember and remind ourselves of His faithfulness.
Exodus 16:23-24 This is what the Lord commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of Sabbath rest, a holy Sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it.
The Sabbath was a day to remember and rest and in the process what was gathered lasted. When it comes to the eternal things of God, those we can gather and they will last!
Matthew 6:19-20 'Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.'
Charles Studd wrote the following: 'Only one life, 'twill soon be past. Only what's done for Christ will last.'
God provided for them in this daily way for 40 years.
Psalm 68:19 'Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.'
Three thoughts to remember:
The original Hebrews indicates that the benefits come on a day by day basis.
The benefits include His kindness, His goodness and His provision. The benefits, besides being our practical daily needs, is ultimately God Himself. His benefits know no limits. He could come through for you in any variety of ways. He gave His children manna in the desert. He opened up the sea in front of them so they could cross. The Lord knows of paths and ways of doing things that we haven't even thought about.
3. LOADS US
When something comes in loads, it does not just mean the bare essentials. It means all we need, more than enough and enough that we in turn can be a blessing to others. But it all comes back to the key phrase 'DAILY'. It does not say monthly or annually, or when the need arises, or when your ship comes in. We simply have to trust Him each and every day.
The Link Between Strength And Days
Deuteronomy 33:25 '...and as your days, so shall your strength be.'
This verse is very clear that days and strength go hand in hand. Not weeks, or months, or years, but days. With each given day comes the strength we need to face and handle that day. Each day we need His fresh mercies and His fresh grace and that will carry us through. The Lord will provide the strength we need for everything that comes our way, day by day and one by one. Somehow we are designed to be able to manage today. We are able to look today's challenges in the face and overcome. Even the heaviest load can be managed for a day, even if we have to take it moment by moment. But tomorrow, that is unknown and not guaranteed and there is no strength provided for it. But if tomorrow comes, with it will come the strength from the Lord that we need.
One Day At A Time - The Pattern Of God And A Pattern For Us
Even the example that God set for us works on this principle.
Genesis 1:5 God called the light "day," and the darkness He called "night." And there was evening and there was morning - the first day.
Our Lord worked on the principle of day by day. Each aspect of creation was wrapped up in the concept of a day. Each day would have a beginning and an end and God would see that it was good. There are things that can add to our lives and there are things that can rob us in our lives. Living one day at a time is the secret to happy and faithfulled lives.
Jude 1:20 'But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith...'
A key to building ourselves up in our faith is in living one day at a time and making the best use of that time we are given. Time is given to us in little compartments called days. These compartments are special gifts and treasures from the Lord Himself. Just do the bit of God's will He intended for you today on the specific day and the rest will take care of itself. Each day is an opportunity to be taken, harnessed and celebrated.
What Did Jesus Say?
Matthew 6:34 'Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'
I like the older version of this verse: 'Take... no thought for the morrow!'
We live in a world dominated by fear, anxiety, depression and stress and these all relate to the future. Our Lord's advice to us is that we have nothing to do with the future. Each day has its own requirements, needs, pressures, successes, joys and griefs. God will always give us the strength we need for the day and for all He places in that day in His purpose and plan to work all things out for our good.
Charles Kingsley wrote the following: 'Do today's duty, fight today's temptation and do not weaken and distract yourself by looking forward to the things we cannot see, and could not understand if you saw them.'
Jesus said the following: 'Give us this day our daily bread.' Matthew 6:11