Just for Today

There’s nothing quite like the awareness of our own mortality to give us a change in perspective. I remember being hospitalized for nearly a month before my daughter was born three months early. Life had become complicated by a rare, life-threatening pregnancy. Each day the hospital chaplain would visit, and she would say, “Just for today.” We took things one day at a time. We couldn’t project the outcome for my daughter or for me. We could pray and hope while we waited to see. If we looked too far into the future, it might overwhelm us. So the chaplain would remind me each day, “You made it another day. Just for today.”

How often and easy it is for my focus to be fixed far off into the future, planning and dreaming, counting on certain experiences and outcomes. Already, I am looking to the fall with my son starting college. I am joyously, if not somewhat anxiously, anticipating taking him to college. But two months lie in between now and that trip. I don’t want to lose these days, these last two months. So while I look forward with gratitude, I also don’t want to run past these moments and how we can make them more significant.

We live in such a future-oriented world, thinking of what we might do and be, which—though sometimes necessary to plan, and even a good thing when done with a proper motivation and recognition of God’s plan for us—can keep us from living this day. And while I do want to live with an eternal perspective with eyes fixed on God, I also want to remember that I’ve been given the gift of today and ask how I can use it for His glory.

Living This Day Highlights God’s Provision

I love these words from the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

Like the manna in the wilderness that God provided each day for the Israelites (Exodus 16), there was enough just for that day. If they gathered more than they needed to store it up, it would spoil. If they gathered less than they needed, there was no shortage. (On the sixth day, they would gather two days’ worth so they could honor the Sabbath on the seventh day, thus providing them rest.)

There was an intended result in their hunger being daily filled: “Then you will know that I am Yahweh your God.” In this miraculous provision, they would see God’s glory, and God would see if they would follow His instructions. They had to trust God that His provision would be there again each day, and it indeed was for the 40 years they spent wandering in the wilderness. God faithfully provided just for the day.

In the New Testament, we come to find that Jesus Himself is the bread of life. Jesus said:

“I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that anyone may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread he will live forever. The bread that I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:48-51).

So when we ask God to give us our daily bread, we think of His provision for today in that new light. The One who laid down His life for us with that ultimate provision of salvation will also provide for our needs today.

Living This Day Guards Us From Anxiety About the Future

Later in Matthew 6, Jesus tells the multitudes not to be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself; each day has enough trouble of its own. We can trust God for today by seeking first His kingdom and righteousness and trusting that all the other things we might worry about (life, the body, clothing, what we will eat and drink) will be provided for us as well.

Living This Day Reminds Us of God’s Faithfulness and Love

In Lamentations 3:22-23, we are told that God’s steadfast love and mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. Each day gives us a fresh supply of God’s love, mercy, and faithfulness. As sure as the sun rises, God demonstrates again his faithfulness to us in bringing about that new day, in holding together the world he has created, and in supplying us with His mercy and love that never ends. When we awaken to a new day, it’s good to remember this stunning truth.

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What if today, I rejoice in God and His faithful provision for me, resist the temptation to be anxious for the future, remember that He is God and that His mercy and love are new this day?

What if today, I simply ask: Will I trust God with this new day? What can I do today to follow God and do His will, to bring Him honor and glory? How can I love and serve those around me today? Where do I see God showing me His glory and providing for my needs?

Just for today.

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Verses for the Day: Phil. 4:4-7, 1 Thess. 5:16-18

I love it that “the Lord is near” and we have nothing to fear. Instead, we can rejoice, give thanks, and pray.

Philippians 4:4-7: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18: “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Summer Lessons

I’m finally remembering to do my summer wrap up post on how the Lord revealed Himself so mercifully to me during challenging times.

From the moment my husband planned our Europe trip, I dreaded it. I didn’t want to leave the children, I was anxious to travel overseas, and I am quite simply a homebody. I am a creature of habit and routine, and travel has always caused upheaval for me to leave my comfort zone. There are only a few exceptions, such as Florida, the Smokies, going to the lake, family camp, or other trips with my family. Nonetheless, I felt like it was the right decision to go, and I was encouraged to do so by many friends and family members.

Several times a week in the weeks prior to the trip, I would wake up in the night with an anxious heart, confess it to the Lord, acknowledge that this fear was not from Him, pray, quote Scripture, and return to sleep. Oftentimes, I would even wake up and scream out from crazy confusion in my sleep!

As the trip grew closer, my feelings of nervousness grew, the stress even manifesting itself in physical ways, but my decision to go was also certain. I would not back out. I was waiting to be surprised by how magnificent a trip it would be and to surely discover that my fears were unwarranted; somehow I expected to find out that maybe I would be a world traveler and be excited to plan future trips! I was also sort of waiting to be blessed for my “obedience” to go, if I’m honest!

No matter how much I had prayed about it during those weeks, there didn’t seem to be any kind of confirming word from the Lord speaking directly to my concerns. I just held on to what I knew was truth as found in the Bible, and I kept on in prayer, waiting for Him to help me. He did. There were nights I was comforted, nights I was blessed by reciting Scripture, and His presence was real. But I really wanted specific insight into how to handle this trip, and I didn’t have that.

Until the day before I left. June 13th. I love that about God. There is purpose in the waiting of learning to trust and obey Him, to believe Him even when we can’t see or know the outcome. And at the right time, He just provides exactly what is needed.

I was down in Memphis dropping off my children, planning to fly back to Chicago that afternoon to then fly the following day to Europe. It was a Sunday, and we did not make it to church. My mom’s friend called and said she wanted to bring by the CD of the sermon that she had just heard. It was by Reggie Sessions, pastor at Independent Presbyterian in Memphis. I’d never heard him before, but this was an excellent message from I Samuel 18, I believe. He talked about the slavery of living in our kingdom, the freedom of getting out of the way, and what we find at the end of the line.

In looking at the life of Saul, he described that it is when we live to protect our kingdom that we are bitter, jealous, resentful, angry — “it takes away our humanity,” he said, and we become a shell of a human being. We’re trying to be God and the center of our universes, and we’re bad at it. We want to be free, but we’re addicted to our kingdom.

He then talked about how we need to get out of the way. He looked at the life of Jonathan, Saul’s son, who surrendered to David’s kingship. He got off the throne and didn’t demand his rights. He laid his life into David’s hand, and gave David his sword, belt and bow.

Reggie described how we are at war with God, but we must surrender. We are fighting against Jesus the King and don’t want to surrender control of our lives. To stand down and be broken is the only way to liberation and peace of mind.

At the end of the line, there is nothing left to hide and no more attempts to control the world. This is where there is peace and joy. He described THE Person (Jesus) who got off His throne for us, who came to give us abundant life. When we surrender and go to the end of the line, “we get our true humanity back.” At the end of the line, it’s not loss, but gain.

What I found so convicting in the message was the description of one trying to control her life. Reggie said, “Some of you are too afraid to leave Memphis and all the things you love to go on a vacation.” It was funny how there were perfect quotes throughout the sermon that were completely accurate to my situation.

Later in the day, I was sitting in the Memphis airport delayed on my flight to Chicago. I began to pray and got out my journal to write my thoughts. They centered on the faithfulness of God: “Lord, You have been faithful!” I wrote a couple of paragraphs on His faithfulness and accompanying verses, then wrote, “You are asking me to do something so outside of my comfort zone, but I thank you for speaking to me, and I pray You will show me Yourself and reveal Yourself to me all along the way, just like You did with the sermon this morning.”

As I sat there, praying and listening, I wrote down what was on my heart: “Just take the next step. One step at a time. Wait on Me. Trust Me.

When I finally boarded the plane to Chicago a short time later, I opened up a book my mom had given me. It was The Saving Life of Christ by Ian Thomas. I’d never opened it before; it was a completely new book to me.

I opened the first page, and it said, “Faithful is He that calleth you, who also will do it.” (I Thess. 5:24) He then writes, “If you will but trust Christ, not only for the death He died in order to redeem you, but also for the life that He lives and waits to live through you, the very next step you take will be a step taken in the very energy and power of God Himself…. You will be restored to your true humanity.

Not only did the book begin by talking about the very contents of my prayer moments before — God’s faithfulness and my call to trust Him and take the next step — but it also re-affirmed the words in the sermon from Reggie — in so doing, you will be restored to your true humanity!

As I read this book, it absolutely amazed me that it spoke so directly to my current situation. As Ian Thomas developed life in the wilderness versus walking in abundance with Christ each day, he even wrote: “Do you still consider that you have the right to choose where you will spend your vacation? You do not have that right! Except in the wilderness!”

Over and over, the book spoke to my specific situation, and while I had waited for the Lord to speak to me, He so mercifully met me in such a powerful way.

The following day, June 14th, in traveling to Europe, I just did what He had shown me: take the next step. All I need to think about is the next step… not be worried about what is beyond it. So I would stand in the line to check my bags. All I need to do is check the bags. Then I would figure out boarding, and take that step. And the trip became just a series of steps wherein I could trust Him with each one.

When I was threatened to be overcome with fear, I could just remember He was with me, He is faithful, He would take me through this step, I could trust Him.

I hope I will hang on to these lessons as I go forward in my life. There were so many other things over the remainder of the summer, but these things really stick out to me. He is all we need, and He is more than enough. It is right to let Him be on the throne, to let Him guide us in each successive step, to believe Him for those moments and trust His sovereignty. He is faithful; He is good. I praise You, Lord!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:23 (ESV)