Choose This Day

We were at dinner with another couple, about this time last year, who have been friends for a long time but had recently resurfaced in our lives on a more regular basis.  She said this was actually a thing, that there have been studies about friendships changing every seven years…or having a seven year life span?  It was something about seven years and change and actually seemed to ring true as we thought back even as limited as our time of marriage and how our friends have changed.  The notion was also discussed in a piece on NPR that studied more about how fundamentally we change on a successive basis, that what we are deeply into today we may not be so into in ten years or might even find embarrassing.  That, in some aspects, also truly describes our evolution in the social/spiritual/emotional sense.  And then I remembered my little sister on her last day of being six years old declaring, “Tomorrow my molecules will be changing!  Every seven years, you’re molecules change.”  Though the process is a bit more gradual than the anniversary of one’s birth on every seventh year, the concept is correct.

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.  But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.  Matt. 6:28-34

Change makes me worry.  What does…What will…How will…Where will…Who do…I just terribly want definition.  I would surely be drawn to a record label over street performing because the former would have parameters and structure and a plan while the latter seems to lack everything other than a pure love of the craft.  Its also difficult to find responsible advocates of “don’t worry Maaaaan.  Eat, drink and be merry…”

But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.  Joshua 24:15

I had an inspiring meeting last week with a successful local businessman who told us that one of his mantras is that “I will not fail today.”  Aside from the impossibility of that for me spiritually, I liked the singular focus of its commitment.  We’re not worrying about tomorrow or yesterday or next week or even the whole project, just today.  Just today, choose whom you will serve.  “Just for today” begin the resolutions from AA, NA and the others.

I mess up friendships needing to “handle them” yesterday and tomorrow.  I lose focus distracted by the whole month and the many years.  Every journey begins with a single step, right?  This is the day that the Lord has made…do not worry about tomorrow.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them.  And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.  Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Matt. 18:1-4

When my children wake up in the morning, they will not have a single thought about the next day, only the moment in front of them.  Sit down Martha, out of the kitchen, at Jesus’ feet, today.  Tomorrow will worry about itself.

Spit Out of the Fish

Identity and involvement are two curious shadows that as such, I can’t wrap my arms around or pin down or in any way seem to manage.  Ambiguity and nuance are beautiful, powerful, and typically where truth resides, and yet leave me so powerless.  Am I this or that?  Should I do more or less?  Do I follow this inclination or reject it entirely?  Is this desire from God or the lusts of my flesh?  Should I be more honest and raw or more admirable and correct?

Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!  Psalm 46:10

I seem to forget this profound premise of the Gospel, a central theme of the person and work of Jesus:  it is not about me and God WILL be exalted among the nations and in the earth through both my beauty and blunders, in the midst of both my grumbling and gratefulness, despite both my selfishness and selflessness.  I am not the point of my creation.  I am not the goal of my sanctification.  I am not breathing today, thinking today, feeling today, working today or being unproductive today for my reputation or reward or for fear of reprimand.  Whether I am fleeing to Tarshish or proclaiming Scripture while being stoned to death, neither are less true in their telling of the person and work of Jesus than the other.

My inability, my lack of discipline, my grumpiness, and my poor time management communicate as much about the truth of God’s perfections in contrast as they do about my need for Him and His work in me that I can’t fake.  When I am productive, gentle in speech and generous in love or service, these provide mere samples of His Person and work, never satisfying in their completeness but directing us to the Source of Satisfaction.

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
    my salvation comes from him.
 Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
    he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.  Psalm 61:1-2

It is Good News that God is on His throne, with a peaceful countenance and gentle smile, loving generously while upholding justice, no matter what my house looks like or what I’ve accomplished in the day or how I’ve used my words, talents and time today.

Am I advocating licentiousness and laziness?  I am advocating God at the center, above and before all things, the beginning and end of all moments and all of creation.  I think He can handle it from there.

Earnings

There is something about “the moral of the story is…” that is just so magnetic.  I want to follow morals and I really like rules.  AND I am always certain and anxious that I am breaking one that I somehow wasn’t attending to properly.  When a police car is behind me I’m sure they see me and are about to turn on their blue lights. I am hyper aware of my wickedness and rebellious heart and live, without always recognizing it, as one who is perpetually guilty.  It makes sense, then, that I am equally atuned to the flaws of others, the errors and violations, the guilt to be identified all make up that double edged sword of justice…lots of slicing going on from my heart.

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 1 John 3:19-21

Of course my heart condemns me, constantly, and not because I am so humble or “too hard on myself” but because the opposite is true…I am offensively arrogant to believe that by my own rule following I can avoid condemnation!  “If I can be all tucked in and washed and combed, no fault will be found!” Oh how little I really understand about the heights of righteousness required of me, that I think I can attain them or that I fear being found out for falling short.  OF COURSE I fall short!  But how do I persuade my heart that my confidence is not in my purity but in His?  This is not new information, nor is it a startling new theological discovery.

And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.  Gen. 15:6

My righteousness is not going to be found in my time management, my documented accomplishments at the end of each day, the admiration of myself from the eyes of others, the condition of my house, the clothes on my body, the words spoken to my children, the time volunteered in my community, the favors done for others, the money budgeted in our accounts but only in my belief that HIS perfections cover me.

Why do I continue to live as one earning favor?  Why do I feel so guilty and angry each time I clearly deserve a citation for laziness, lack or loss of self-control, self absorption, grumpiness, discontent, poor stewardship and wasted time?

Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
    O God of my salvation,
    and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
 O Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
    you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  Psalm 51:14-17