As I reflected back on my posts for this year, I realized there has been a theme of learning how to live in today:
Not Enough Time
Taking Back Life
Being Changed by Contentment
360 Vision: Lacking Nothing
This week, the Lord has reinforced this concept for me once again. I have been reading Tell it Slant by Eugene Peterson and in one part of the book he looks at the three passages on prayer found in Luke 11:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.
9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
In the book, Eugene points out the common theme of bread in the three parables (the third parable is egg and fish - but he pointed out how this was also part of their daily meal). As I reflected on these verses and the commonness of bread I was struck once again by the theme of TODAY.
Think about bread - especially in biblical times. It was a staple. It was a necessary part of their diet. Because there were no preservatives it was new everyday. It was not flashy or expensive nor was it a luxury. This "bread" is God's offer to us: to be stable, consitent, available everyday in the everyday regularities of life. His presence with us does not have to be flashy, nor is it a Sunday morning luxury. It is necessary for our living and it is new every morning.
Give us this day - today. So often our prayers focus on tomorrow, next week, next year. We hope and pray that tomorrow will be better, that we will understand and love God better at some future date. It is like we are chasing a dangling carrot. Yet, this allusiveness doesn't come from God because God's invitation to us isn't for tomorrow it is for TODAY!
Jesus, is our Bread of Life. He is available to us EVERYDAY - not just on Sunday or when we are "extra spiritual." Jesus teaches us to pray for this bread TODAY. In the second parable, it says "he will give us as much bread as we need." In the third parable, it says "Ask, seek,knock" which the church has gotten down. We "ask, seek, knock" but our expectation is that we will be answered tomorrow. But Jesus immediately follows these requests with the answer "It will be given to you," and the underlying reason is because we have a GOOD FATHER who will give us what we need! And what is it that we need? The Holy Spirit.
John 14:15-18, 25 -27“If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
Ah! As I read this I'm not only overwhelmed by the invitation for help in this day, but also with the intimacy of His love.
He is our Father.
He will not leave us as orphans.
The Holy Spirit is God's gift to us, to teach us, to remind us and to give us peace in this wild world.
These statements are not platitudes. They are not unattainable things, available only in a "perfect world," or when you get your act together. Jesus used bread to teach us. Bread a daily, regular part of life. It was needed for sustenance. It was expected. It was life-giving.
Today, today, today. May you know that the Holy Spirit is as real in your life as bread is in your mouth. He is available today to be a reality and an assurance of who you are in Christ, a beloved Child of our Heavenly Father.