A couple weeks ago, my parents pastors wife stopped by my parents house for a quick visit. She asked to use the restroom and they heard her moaning loudly. They asked if she was alright, she said that she could not breathe, she opened the door and collapsed. She died the next afternoon. She was in her early 60’s. That is scary.
Years ago, a well loved preacher got up in the pulpit to preach a sermon. In the middle of his sermon, he fell over and was dead. Any of you that know and love Mrs. Brenda Allred know this story and how her father died. It all happened so suddenly and without warning or time to prepare or intervene. That is scary.
On March 11, 2009, I was so sick. I was in a tremendous amount of pain. I felt like someone had electric wires and was shocking my body all over with them. I decided to lay down and take a nap hoping to feel better when I woke up. When I awoke 24 hours later, I was unable to feel or move anything from my upper ribs down. My upper body was able to move but the sensation we really weird. Some places I could feel and some I could not. I was having trouble taking a deep breath. My fingers were moving so slow and seemed disconnected from me somehow. I was also 5 months pregnant and terrified for the little life inside of me. Many hospital stays, specialists, and tests for months diagnosed me with Transverse Myelitis – a very rare neurological condition where a virus attacks your spinal cord and causes so much swelling around your spinal cord that it squeezes the very life out of it. I was left permanently paralyzed. Permanent. As that word sunk in, anxiety tried to take over my life. How can I be the wife I need to be to my husband? How can I be a good mother to all of these kids we have collected? How can I live in a wheelchair the rest of my life? I was having a hard enough time just living in one for the first year. I was terrified.
Just stop and look at our nation. Our economy. The spiritual temperature of those around us. Listen to prayer requests. People are in a health crisis, or have lost their jobs, or have family that are so far from The Lord. If we would just stop here for minute, we could have a moment of silence for all the panic attacks I have so far induced. All of these things are so terrifying. So scary.
One of the greatest thieves of our joy is fear. And this is the season of joy! As a Christian, that season should be year round! We know that God has not given us a spirit of fear. So, we know that if we are experiencing fear, it is not from God. It is the presence of sin in this world, that ushered in all of these horrible things anyway. So, it is the powers of darkness that want to flood our hearts and lives with fear and to steal our joy and peace. This is not the plan of God for our lives…to live in the bondage of our fears. So, He has given us a very special gift.
I am thankful for eternal life. (John 3:16) I am thankful for my salvation. I am thankful that my eternity is settled. I am so thankful for the gift of a Savior. But the gift of eternal life is not what I want to talk about.
I want to talk about the gift of our earthly life. I want to talk about the gift of only living today. I want to talk about not living my life as a whole, but being given the gift of only living it day by day. We live through life one day at a time.
The gift I want to share is just the simple gift of today. We don’t think about it much unless something rocks our world. But, this beautiful gift of living in today is something that I believe if we would really hang onto, it would change our lives. I know it has changed mine.
In Matthew 6, Jesus was preaching His sermon on the mount. Here is what He had to say about fear and anxiety in our life, and here is where He tells us about the gift of living in today.
Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air:for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow:for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.
It hit me a couple of years ago, that no matter what I worried about, I could not solve. My worries won’t make me taller, they won’t make me walk, and they won’t add one day to my life. God is 100% in control of my life, and until He is finished with me, I will not die, and if He is finished with me, I will not live. That simple. The fears of the unknowns in our life are just that. They are unknown. We are afraid, and we are not even sure of the reality of our fears.
As The Lord teaches us to live only in this day, and to not be anxious and fearful for the tomorrow’s, He doesn’t stop there. He doesn’t desire for us to only survive this day. He desires that we thrive through this day.
So here is what He does:
1. He daily loadeth us with benefits.
Blessed be the Lord,who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
2. His mercy and compassion are new every morning.
It is of the Lord ‘s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not.
They are new every morning:great is thy faithfulness.
3. His grace is available each day. It never runs out.
Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
I need this help every day. Don’t you?
There is one more thing that He gives us daily.
4. He gives us a free will to choose.
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell:but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
So lets take all of this and wrap it up in a package.
There are so many fearful things in life it can just about smother us. Worry and anxiety want to rob us of our joy and peace.
Jesus told us to take no thought for tomorrow, because He knows what we need for each day, and He has the future taken care of.
Every day, God has opened the reserves of Heaven to us and we have all the love, grace, mercy, compassion and all of His benefits at our disposal.
But, we get to choose.
We get to choose if we will stay enslaved to our worries of tomorrow (which is where Satan wants us) or if we live in the gift of today and the abundant life that God desires for us. The decision is to live today to the fullest because we trust God with our tomorrow’s.
Lets go back over 2000 years ago, to the city of Bethlehem, and enter into the small stable that housed Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus. I want you to enter that dimension of time, enter into the smells of that stable, the sounds of the animals, and see Mary holding her newborn son. Have you ever held a newborn baby? Mary knew that she was holding the Son of God. Mary knew that He was in her life for a reason. Mary knew that somehow her son was going to change the world. But Mary had limited knowledge. She just lived each day raising her son and trusting that God knew the plan.
Fast forward 33 years. Now the scene has changed. Now the scene is not sweet. Mary is at the foot of the cross. Her son is hanging there…suffering and dying. How was this happening? He was supposed to be the Messiah. He was supposed to change the world. He was too young to die. She crumpled…weeping. In that stable, years before, she did not see this coming. She must have been so afraid. She suddenly understood what Simon had meant at the Temple years before when he said a sword would pierce her soul. She got through that day and trusted God.
3 days later, Jesus rose again from the dead! Oh, how things must have started slowly coming together for her. She did not understand why the Messiah must die. Why hadn’t He stormed into Jerusalem and taken over the throne? But now…she saw that He conquered through giving His life. She saw that His suffering had made an eternal difference. Not just for that generation under the bondage to the Romans, but to all generations under the bondage of sin!
He ascended into Heaven and sent the Comforter. The Comforter that worked in her heart each day as she relived Calvary in her mind. The Comforter that calmed her troubled soul as she missed the physical presence of her Son. The Comforter that led her through her eventual death, where she was once again reunited with her son in His kingdom. He gained her that access and then she understood it all.
That same, wonderful Jesus said in John 10:10, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy:I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Satan wants to steal our joy, he wants to kill our peace, and he wants to destroy the abundant life that Christ gave His life for. Let’s not allow him to do this! Enjoy the gift of today that Christ has given us. Live your life each day to the fullest, trusting that God has your future in His control.
My life has changed, but it is far from over. Life is so very beautiful and it is more precious to me now than ever. I know how fragile life can be. I know how it can change in a moment. But instead of wasting my today’s by worrying about tomorrow, I want to live today to the fullest! It may be my last day, and if it is, then let’s make it count!
Let me wish all of us a very merry Christmas as we live our today’s in the abundant joy Christ has given us. No, they are not magic, but ordinary days are precious! Enjoy them!