Give us this day

It always astounds me how God works through the confluence of many seemingly-disconnected influences to bring truths to the eyes of our hearts: lessons which crystalize over time as the Spirit draws connections between the Word, conversations with others, wisdom from books or talks, and those precious moments when His still, small voice cuts through with clarity. It seems to me that this is how He speaks, most of the time — not through signs in the stars or magnificent omens, but through the shape of our lives. Through the supernatural illumination of the mundane as we navigate life’s joys and injuries.

God has often taught me this way, and most recently He has been telling me to simply have faith for today. He’s done so through moments from a counseling session, a chapter of Screwtape Letters, talks from a missions conference, random conversations, and a morning spent in John 6. Through all of these disparate influences, His voice has been very quiet and yet very clear, asking: do you trust that I have given you today, and that today alone is what you are called to have dominion over? Do you trust that I will provide manna in your wilderness, but only one day at a time?

I’ve written about anxiety many times before, and yet I’m just now beginning to see that my experiences of it are usually rooted in a desire to control events, challenges, and tests which loom large in the future — things which I cannot control in the present, though I might try. I often use “being responsible” as an excuse to let my heart and mind run rampant through dreams yet-unfulfilled, while my body moves through each moment overtaken with worry about my inability to control those hypotheticals. Satan loves this, I’m sure. He loves to twist “mere musing” about the future such that it keeps us fixated on our lack of agency over that which we are not currently called to have agency over, all the while distracting us from the very work and people He has given us in the present.

It makes sense that the Enemy would want to keep us from the present. For as CS Lewis wonderfully wrote, “the Present is the point at which time touches eternity” (Screwtape Letters, chapter 15). It is the only place in time that can be tangibly interacted with, the only point where we can make movements that will ripple to lasting glory. This is true no matter how mundane one’s daily schedule might seem — God wastes nothing, and if He has called us to a given day, even one that seems banal, then it comes replete with opportunities to participate in building His Kingdom. The present, and only the present, is where our actions can genuinely intersect His grand cosmic narrative of redemption and restoration.

The call to live fully in the present is therefore a very high one. Yet the beautiful reality is that in Christ, we will always have enough to satisfy it. For He never asks us to anything without supplying everything we need. Regardless of our insufficiency, He is sufficient, and in grace He confers that sufficiency to us (2 Corinthians 12:9). Such grace is new every morning; our God is not a God of saving and stockpiling, as evidenced by his daily approach to feeding the Israelites during their forty years of wandering (Exodus 16). He is a God of abundance, and He supplies that abundance in a manner which mercifully reminds us of our need of Him. 

That is why we are told to say, “give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9-13). Such a prayer is not only a plea for daily provision out of need. It is also an anticipatory proclamation of trust that God is a miraculous provider. In America, many of us will never know what it truly means to be dependent on God for food each day, but we can certainly lean on Him to provide what we need for each task, Zoom call, decision, and conversation. We can know that He will enable us to be just as productive as He needs us to be, that He will give us words to speak, that He will fill us with love to be poured out for others.

Perhaps living this way, understanding life as a series of magnificent “todays” which are able to have dominion over by grace, is what it means to be faithful. After all, what does the word “faithful” mean but simply to be “full of faith”? And if faith is confidence that God is who He says He is — that He who caused bread to daily rain from the heavens is the same Lord over our lives — then the faithful life is one of freedom. It is a life in which we are free to face each day with open hands, ready to receive whatever He gives us, whether that be a day of normalcy or a day of unexpected turns. It is a life where we are free to use our time and resources in ways that might seem risky to a world which idolizes hyper-productivity. Perhaps that freedom takes the shape of giving sacrificially, being radically available to others, or genuinely resting. However it looks, we can move in confidence knowing that when we use today in accordance with what God values, any resulting sacrifices will be provided for by Him. 

In the end, freedom from anxiety over the future is possible when we trust that God meets us in the present and provides bread one day at a time; when we believe that our movement into the future is nothing more than Christ bearing us through one today after another. All tomorrows are in His hands. As I’ve come to understand this, I’ve found great comfort in beginning each day in prayer: Lord, give me this day my daily bread; give me what I need to have dominion over today alone, for today is yours and it is enough. You are enough, Jesus, and you have already given yourself in grace. Bread of Life, I am full in you today.

“’Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.’

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’

‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread.’

Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’”

-John 6:27, 32-35

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