One Day at a Time
Our God is a god of process, and I don't like it. The other day I was spending time with the Lord and I felt him, as he does so often, calling me to focus on only what's set in front of me to do today. He led me to Matthew 6:34 which says, "Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes" (MSG).
I'm a dreamer. I love to sit and think about how life could be. And once I've decided on how life could be I like to "arrive" there as quickly as possible. If I decide to start cooking, I want to be as good as a Michelin star chef immediately. After all, they have two hands, a nose and taste buds like me, so why can't I? If I decide to become an artist I feel like I should be able to sketch anything. I mean I have eye balls, two hands and I can buy the same pens and paper as them right? Incredibly prideful? Probably. Intensely frustrating? Most definitely.
To me the process just feels like necessary frustration I have to go through to be where I want to be in life. Taking cooking classes, trying and failing, burning meat and then undercooking it, those are just necessary evils. Drawing a tree over and over and over again until it resembles something like a tree is just what I have to go through to get to the good stuff.
But in spending time with God I began to realize a few important things. One, spending most of my life frustrated because I haven't "arrived" yet sure doesn't seem like the abundant life Jesus died to give me. Two, is it even possible to truly "arrive" this side of heaven? And lastly, what am I missing out on by enjoying only the arrival moments? What good gifts am I refusing from my heavenly Father by not looking for his goodness in the process?
Throughout Scripture we find God enjoying and engaging fully in the process. The Creation story in Genesis tells us God created the world piece by piece, day after day and called it good. We find Adam and Eve working in the garden in perfect enjoyment of the growth process. Jesus was a carpenter before engaging in ministry. I doubt he would just speak furniture into existence when no one was looking. He probably used his hands just like we would to carefully craft whatever he set out to make, engaging fully in the process of carpentry.
And our relationship with God is a process just like any other relationship. Throughout my failures and successes God's love and presence remain steadfast. He rejoices with me and weeps with me. He disciplines me and encourages me. And at the end of it all I know that whether I do well or fail miserably, his chief joy is simply having relationship with me.
What if when I fell I rejoiced in the fact that my God gives me grace to get back up again rather than kicking myself when I'm already down? How abundant would life be if my measure of a day depended on how deeply I communed with an ever-present God rather than whether I won more than I lost? What if I chose to live that I might receive grace rather than achieve self-sufficiency?
Maybe at the end of it all, a life lived in full devotion to God is nothing more than a string of days fully devoted to a Good Shepherd who alone knows the lay of land. Can I trust that today's pastures are enough for today? Can I trust that he is indeed leading me when I walk through a particularly barren looking portion? Can I drink from the waters he leads me to rather than setting out to find my own sources of life? And in it all, can my chief joy be not the grass I eat or the water I drink, but the Good Shepherd himself?
The process is a reality of life. And I can either choose to join my heavenly Father in rejoicing in it, or muck about in the wasteland of the arrival mindset. The choice truly is mine. God is good either way. And he has good plans for me whatever I choose. May I learn to listen and believe the words of my heavenly Father when he says, "one day at a time Craig, one day at a time." After all, one day spent receiving and experiencing the reality of a good, loving and present God sure seems like enough for today.
By Craig Denison
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