One of the most valuable and yet most challenging things I’ve been seeking to master in recent years is the idea of living for the Lord one day at a time. My goal is to awaken each day aware of my complete dependence on Him and to very quickly yield my heart and thoughts toward Him.
The best reason for this is simple. This is how Jesus lived, the way He related to His Father. We never see Jesus wrestling with the “tyranny of the urgent,” chained to his calendar or planning book, mapping out schedules and strategies for today, this week, next month, next year.
But us? We’re all about planning. It’s what we do. We’d think it irresponsible to do otherwise.
We see Jesus living very differently, though. Awakening each day focused on following the will of His Father, wherever that led Him. We don’t see Him teaching His disciples to live any differently. In fact, when Jesus talks about the topic of time, He says things like: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (Matt 6:34).
In the Book of Acts, the Disciples’ focus seems pretty much the same as what we see in Jesus’ life in the Gospels. Paul’s life, depicted in his epistles, seems about the same. We don’t see anywhere in Scripture examples of our modern practice of planning out the details of our lives, no instructions to do this and, certainly, no commands.
So why do we do it? Why is planning and thinking about tomorrow (and the next day and the next), then worrying about all these things the norm for us?
Which is why I’ve stopped doing it. Or, at least why I’m deliberately seeking to resist thoughts that tempt me to carry the burdens of tomorrow today. That’s really the end result of such planning, at least for me. Worry.
As I plan, all these problems come into focus. All the unsure and uncertain things rise up and stare me down. If I wasn’t worried before, I am now. Once that happens, I’m kind of stuck. Because I can’t do anything about all this weight I’m carrying now. I can’t travel forward in time and do one single thing to lighten the load.
The truth is, even if I could, I have no assurance that I could fix the situation. Or that what I’m imagining about the future will actually happen the way I’m seeing it now. Let’s face it, nothing in the present happens the way I plan. Every week, sometimes every day, surprises come and mess up my plans. This has been going on my entire life. Why would I think it will be any different in the future?
Because of these things, God’s Word tells us (and Jesus models for us) a new and living way. It’s called trusting God for the future and living in today. James said:
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. (James 4:13-16)
We only have this day—TODAY—assured to us. We have no promise of tomorrow, at least not on this earth. So what value is there worrying about tomorrow, trying to solve tomorrow’s anticipated troubles today?
The most important task for me is to begin each day drawing near to God (Ps. 5:2-3). To surrender my will, my plans, and my agenda for the day to the One who loved me and gave Himself for me (Luke 9:23, Gal 2:20). Even the “Our Father” prayer shows this surrender and pursuit of God is supposed to be a daily event (Matt 6:9-11).
As I have begun to live more and stay more in “today,” I have experienced much greater joy and freedom from fear and anxiety, as well as a much more hopeful outlook on tomorrow. When I do slip back into my old patterns of over-planning and worry and, as a result, get weighed down with anxiety or fear, I’m not really stuck. I have a wonderful place to go (and so do you).
Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)
God’s faithfulness awakens with the sunrise. His mercies are “new every morning” (Lam. 3:22-23). As for our future, all the days of our life, though turning one page at a time for us, are already written in God’s book (Ps. 139:16). How many pages do I have left in my book? What things might happen in those pages? I don’t know. But this I do know…the One who made me, the One who died and gave His life for me, the One who gave me new life in Christ and melted my hardened heart, He knows how many pages I have left and what is written on each one.
God Himself has written the Book of our lives.
And we know He has promised to be with us as each page unfolds, leading us and guiding us by His Spirit, as we yield our will and take hold of His hand.
Lord, help us to learn this new and living way, to stop living under the weight of tomorrow’s troubles and concerns. Thank you for the grace you provided for today. Help us to grasp that it is sufficient―by your own design―for this day, not tomorrow or next week. When tomorrow comes, you will be there, just as present and just as willing to give us fresh grace to strengthen and sustain us for whatever we might face. Lighten our load, even now, Lord. Remove from our shoulders every weight you have not asked us to carry. Give us your rest for our souls. In Jesus name, Amen.
(NOTE: To read the other posts in this devotional feature of my blog, select “Perfect Peace – Hope for the Weary Soul” in the Category section.)