Disclaimer: Yes, I listened to Andy Stanley while coming in to work today, so his sermon from this past Sunday was on my mind when I was thinking this stuff :p
Every so often, I look back on my childhood and try to remember what I found so special about it, what value I as an adult see in what life was like as a kid. Almost invariably, my mind zeroes in on one theme — I didn’t worry.
Oh sure, I worried about how I’d do on the various weekly tests. I worried about whether or not this girl would like me, or that girl would dump me — or more accurately, how long it would be before she dumped me. But I didn’t worry about any of the BIG stuff. I didn’t worry about how food was gonna get to the table. I didn’t worry about keeping the lights on. I didn’t worry about what would happen if the car broke down, or if my place of employment went bankrupt. Heck, I didn’t even worry if I was getting close to “my time”, even though I was born with a heart condition.
I didn’t worry about ANY of the big stuff, because at the time, I didn’t “know” it was big stuff. I knew it was important, sure, but I also knew that it didn’t have anything to do with me. I couldn’t do anything about it. I had no control over it, but I knew SOMEBODY had it handled. I saw my parents sometimes struggle to make the bills, but I didn’t worry about the food, or the lights, or the house. Even as “worrisome” as those issues were, I knew they had it under control, that they had a plan to move forward, and that somehow, what we needed would be provided.
What a fool I was. In all that time, I NEVER understood just how close we were to homeless, or hungry. I might have “known” those possibilities were out there, but it never seemed REAL to me. Not like they do now. Now that I’m living my parents’ life, now that I’m the one earning the family paycheck and paying the bills and providing for the groceries, I am TERRIBLY aware of just how close we are to disaster on a daily basis. It’s a palpable, terrifying reality, knowing that we are one bounced check away from my house of cards tumbling to the ground.
What a fool I was, as a child, to not be terrified to live!
…or, rather, what a fool I could be, as an adult, to not return to that confidence!
See, all these feelings, all these terrors and worries, they are all things that God has called me to leave behind. Throughout the gospels and the New Testament, Jesus and the disciples encourage — even admonish — us to not fear, to not worry. Matthew quotes Jesus this way…
Matthew 6:34 — Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
We’re told that today has enough trouble to deal with WITHOUT us borrowing trouble from tomorrow. We can plan for tomorrow (we are, in fact, encouraged to do so), but we can’t control it. We may be able to prepare for tomorrow — in our resources, in ourselves — but we can’t avoid it. We cannot CHANGE tomorrow because we’re not there yet. We can ONLY change TODAY, because today is all we have. THIS MOMENT is all we have.
That’s what Jesus was telling us. To “worry” about tomorrow — to dread, to be anxious over, to focus our energies, our thoughts, our lives on the future — is to STOP living TODAY. We may never even live to SEE tomorrow, so to sacrifice today for a tomorrow that we may never have is to sacrifice in vain.
But Christ has called us OUT of that. He calls us to trust in God, that GOD has tomorrow in His hands as certainly as my parents had the bills and the groceries in their hands… as MY kids trust that I have OUR household bills and groceries in MY hands. I didn’t dread an empty table, because I knew my parents would have something on it. My kids don’t dread an empty table, because they know I will have something on it — even if it’s Ramen noodles and PB&J. The child doesn’t worry about the bills or the groceries because, ultimately, they are out of his control. If the lights are out, he’ll just have to suffer the darkness. If the heat is out, he’ll just have to huddle closer under the covers. If the table is empty, he’ll just have to suffer that crust of bread that his Daddy gives up for his sake. He does all these things because even though he, the child, cannot change things, Mommy and Daddy CAN, and if given the chance, they will.
Matthew 6:33 — But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The child may not like today, but he doesn’t dread tomorrow, because he lives with this confidence. THIS is the confidence that we have been called to in Christ — the knowledge that GOD will handle the things that WE cannot control. We might plan for tomorrow, and prepare, and educate ourselves on what to expect, but we’re commanded not to worry about it… because tomorrow is not today. Tomorrow is still on the other side of the horizon, in a place where our hands cannot reach… but God’s can. TODAY is in our grasp. THIS MOMENT is ours to decide what to do, and God tells us exactly what He WANTS us to do with it — seek first, run after, pursue, chase down the kingdom of God, and His righteousness. As David tells us in the Psalms, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Tomorrow is a reality. Tomorrow is out there, somewhere. But we’re not called to live in tomorrow, to worry about tomorrow, to dread tomorrow. We’re called to be present in today, to live today as if today is all we have… because it is. Yesterday is written in stone. Tomorrow may never get here. Even if we live forever, today is the only day that we have.