One day at a time: future provision

I remember reading Corrie Ten Boom speaking of how she learnt about God’s daily provision as she suffered in a concentration camp; she remembered her dad teaching her the lesson.  He used to say to her as a child: ‘when we get on a train, at what point do I give you your ticket?’.  Corrie would reply ‘just before we got on the train’.  Her father would respond: ‘That’s right, I gave it to you when you needed it and not before.  So it is with God.’

This quote from the excellent book ‘Running Scared’ (by Ed Welch) makes a similar point.

We often say ‘God will provide’. These words spell that out a bit more.

 

“Among my assorted fears and anxieties is the fear of suffocation, especially through drowning…What does tomorrow’s manna, future grace, have to do with such fears?  It doesn’t say that I will be spared suffocation.  What it it says is that, if I am called to death by asphyxiation, I will have grace when that time comes.  What does that mean?  I don’t know.  I can’t imagine such grace.  I can’t imagine anything that would make drowning tolerable.  And that is exactly what we should expect:  At this moment I don’t have grace to drown because I am not drowning!  Of course I will worry if I try to envision a drowning scenario.  I will project the grace I have received for today onto tomorrow, not comprehending that I will receive grace as needed tomorrow.

We have to go slowly on this one because it is so essential in our battle with worry and fear.  Let’s say that you are taking a class, and the first thing the instructor does is hand out a test.  As you scan it, you know nothing.  Little signs and symbols, words you have never seen – your anxiety level rises with each question.  You have failed the class before it has begun!

Then the teacher interrupts, “Did I tell you that this will be your final exam?  You don’t have to take this now, and you don’t know any of this now, but trust me.  By the time the class is over you will actually know this.  You’ll be amazed at how well prepared you will be.”

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief.  Nothing has really changed. There will be a final exam at the end of the course, and you would fail it if you took it now, but you have no worries.  When the time comes to take the test, you will have received the grace you need to do well.

Are you worried about the future? You are looking at tomorrow as if it was a final exam adn you haven’t yet taken the class.  Of course you panic at the thought. But you haven’t considered that you will go through the class before you have to take the final.  You will be given all the grace you need when you need it.

What form might that grace take?  Be careful here.  When we try to imagine grace in some future situations, we might still be resting in ourselves.  We want specific confirmation that there will be grace and we want to calm ourselves not by trusting in the Gracious One but in seeing the future.  If I am called to drown, I don’t know what grace I will receive.  Having never had it, I can’t imagine it, and since God gives much more than we ask my prediction no doubt would fall far short.  It is enough to know that I will receive grace.  I will know the presence of the Spirit and I will die, or be rescued, in a way that pleases the Lord.”

(Running Scared, p.144-145)

 

 

One day at a time

I’m a (very) slow learner and have got to the end of another day wishing I’d learn the lesson in this quote from a sermon.

“The experience of not losing heart fades and must be renewed day by day. If you are a veteran Christian, you know this from experience. If you are newer in the faith, this is one of the most important things you need to know…

A New Dosage for Today’s Pain

 Be sure you see the word “renewed” in verse 16: “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.” Do you see what this means? It means the refreshing, renewing, strength-giving drink you took in the morning that kept you from losing heart must be taken again the next morning — or night or noon. “Re-new” means something runs out. The bucket leaks. The car runs out of gas. The spiritual metabolism of your life feasted on the renewing meal, and now it needs another one.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Its own trouble. Its own wasting away. Its own destruction. Its own moths and rust and persecution and pain and dying. Each day has its own trouble. And the car of your hope and strength and joy is not meant to run on yesterday’s gas. The metabolism of your spiritual renewal is not meant to run on yesterday’s meal. The relief from your spiritual medicine does not come from yesterday’s dosage. The text says “day by day” the renewal comes! There are no spiritual booster shots that last for ten years. There are no meals designed by God to carry you for a year. There are no gas tanks in the car of your faith big enough never to need refueling. Look at what it says: “our inner self is being renewed day by day.”

Which is why the Bible not only said, “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble,” but also said, “The mercies of the Lord are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23) — every day, day by day. There is new water flowing from the fountain. New food for today’s spiritual metabolism. New gas to drive today’s car. A new dosage to relieve today’s pain.

Why We Need Renewal Daily

…There is a reason God would design things this way. Don’t get in God’s face and complain to him that he is saving you this way. Don’t murmur against God that the path to heaven takes so many thousands of acts of renewal to keep from losing heart. Don’t tell God you know a better way. You don’t.

This is a conference under the banner, Soli Deo Gloria — to God alone be the glory. And what did verse 7 say: “We have this treasure in jars of clay [jars that need refilling, renewing day by day] to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” God saves us through a thousand battles, a thousand renewals, so that we never, never forget that we are weak and he is our strength. He is our strength, our living water, our food, our gas, our medicine.

And the giver of the strength — the giver of hope and joy — gets the glory. That’s what the apostle Peter said: “Serve by the strength that God supplies — in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:11). The giver of the strength gets the glory for the service. That’s why we are weak and why we need renewals day by day so as not to lose heart.”

(From ‘The Glory of God in the Sight of Eternity’ by John Piper).