“Give us today our daily bread …” – Jesus (Matthew 6:11)
Today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Today. When we pray, we are to ask for only what we need for today, and even then, we need to ask for it only if it lines up with His perfect will for our lives as we live it under the rule and reign of His already/not-yet kingdom.
Man. That sounds an awful lot different than the way I normally pray. You know, a quick run down of my grocery list of needs and wants – many of which have to do with anxieties or fears that I have about things that have not even happened yet. Example:
“Umm. God. You know that I have this big sermon coming up this Sunday, and I really need your help to preach a good one. So if you could help me out with that, I would really appreciate it. Also, my daughter is going out with a bunch of friends Friday night, and I just want to ask if you could watch over them, and help them not to make any stupid decisions. Oh, and then my mom’s having surgery next week, so please just be with her and dad …”
23 verses after Jesus gives us the model for asking for what we need today, he says “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (Matthew 6:34).
The Psalmist tells us in Psalm 118:24 that “(t)his is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This day. Today. We are to rejoice and be glad in this day.
If I am honest, I am not that interested in this day. I am much more interested in yesterday and tomorrow.
I am a Beatles or Loverboy kind of guy.
One of the Beatles greatest hits was a song called Yesterday. Paul McCartney sings: “Yesterday. All my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as thought they’re here to stay. Oh I believe in yesterday.” These lyrics remind me of Uncle Rico. You remember Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite don’t you? All he wanted to do was to get back to his glory days as a high school football player. He is so desperate to try and reclaim the past that he buys a time machine off of Ebay which does nothing more than probably ruin his chances of ever producing offspring (which might not be a bad thing).
“Yesterday” people are always thinking about how good things “used to be.”
Loverboy, on the other hand, was an 80’s rock band most famous for their anthem “Working for the Weekend.” Never mind what happens Monday-Friday; all I want to do is make it to the weekend.
“Tomorrow” people are always thinking about how good things are going to be “some day;”
Over and against these two options lies the key to joy and contentment in life: living for today: as Hillsong United sings, “Today. Today. It’s all or nothing.”
I think so many of us lack joy in our lives because we’re stuck in yesterday or tomorrow.
Thomas Carlyle once said that “the tragedy of life is not how much we suffer, but how much we miss.” I don’t want to miss out on any more than I already have. I want to live fully for today, forgetting the past, and letting tomorrow take care of itself.
I end this post with something that my friend Jim Palmer wrote yesterday morning on his Facebook page that I think sums up what I am trying to say:
“Stop right now and remember that you are not going to be here forever. You can never get this life back. Once the next moment passes, it is gone and lost forever. Leave no love left undone. Lean into your fear. Face it. Let go of your resentments. Stop trying to control everything. You can't. Put your worries to rest and let nothing stand between you and life right now. Don't squander away too many of those present moments and think of each one as a gift...an opportunity...an invitation. Feel it all, even the sadness...and just keep living. Have a little faith. Accept the ripples on the surface, but know that deep below and beneath everything that all shall be well, all shall be well, and all matter of things shall be well.”
Now go and enjoy the rest of this day.