Have you ever wanted to hit the REWIND BUTTON of life, and go back to your past to correct a mistake or sin that has negatively affected your life? Have you ever wanted to hit the FAST FORWARD button of life and peer into the future to see what it holds to help you overcome your anxiety and fear of what is in store for you? Have you ever wanted to hit the PAUSE button and just step off life’s seamingly endless merry-go-round just to take a break and collect your thoughts? Hopefully none of us has been so despairing that we have wanted to hit the STOP button and bring the gift of life to an ending of our choosing.
Of course we all at some point have had some of these thoughts; however life is not a DVR or TEVO, and we must live in the present. There is no rewind, fast forward or pause button and for Christians who believe in the sanctity of life, pushing the Stop button is never an option. Therefore, we only have one button and it comes preset on play.
Once again knowing what is best for us, God made us just the way we needed to be. We came pre-programmed from the moment of our conception in the womb with just one button, the PLAY button. Trying to relive the past or know in advance what the future will bring only serves to add stress to our life.
What does Jesus say about this? In Matthew 6:25-34 we read this verse:
“Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?”
By dwelling on our past we tend to dredge up regrets, resentments and past sins. We want to believe that if we could just go back in time we could make things turn out differently. We can’t! Beating ourselves up over the past will not solve a thing. What does the Bible tell us about this? Psalm 103:12 says this:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.”
By dwelling on the future we tend to create scenarios in our mind that bring us fear and anxiety. By not living in the present we miss the peace and joy that our Lord wishes us to experience today. Also, by not living in the present we can miss opportunities to bring the light of Christ to others by being present to their needs. As for worrying about the future Matthew in verse 6: 31-34 tells us:
“So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom (of God) and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.”
God Himself lives in the eternal present. When the Lord revealed Himself and His name to Moses, He said, “I Am Who I Am” (Exodus 3:14). Notice He did not say, “I was who Iwas” or “I will be who Iwill be.” He said, “I Am.” We too need to remain with the Lord in the present.
So again, what was the advice Jesus gave us in Matthew’s Gospel verse above? He told us that in order to avoid these anxieties and worries about the past and future we should seek first the Kingdom of God. Jesus further gives us advice on living in the present when in Matthew 6:11 He tells us to pray:
“Give us today our daily bread”
So in the fourth petition in the Our Father Prayer when Jesus says “give us this day our daily bread,” what exactly is He telling us to ask for? We have all recited this prayer so often that I suspect we miss some of its important meaning. It is clear and obvious that we ask for bread but what does the bread represent? The word bread, as used in the prayer, has both a temporal and spiritual meaning.
On the temporal side, bread means more than just food. It means we are asking our Father to provide for our human needs of food, shelter and clothing. Notice, we are asking for our needs not our luxuries and wants.
From the spiritual perspective, have you ever noticed that this one line of the “Our Father” appears to be redundant? Why do we ask, “give us this day our daily bread?” Did Jesus mis-speak? No clearly He did not. In order to unlock the power of this prayer we must go back to the Greek words to understand the true meaning. The word that we translated into “daily” was EPIOUSIOS. In other words, the petition read “give us this day our epiousios bread.” This word is so unusual it appears nowhere else in Scripture nor in Greek literature. Taken literally, (epi-ousious) means super essential or super-substantial. So when we pray these words we are praying: give us this day our super essential bread.
And just what is our super-essential bread? Jesus told the crowd:
“Do not labor for food that perishes, but for that which endures unto life everlasting, which the Son of Man will give you. … My Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is that which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. … This is the labor of God that you believe in Him and in Him Whom He has sent” (Jn 6:27).
When the crowd still wanted food for their physical hunger Jesus responded:
“I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. … whoever beholds the Son, and believes in Him, shall have everlasting life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (Jn 6:27-32,34,40).
Jesus gave Himself to us in the form of bread. This super-essential bread is the source of our spiritual nutrition. It is the source of everlasting life. Then Jesus taught us each day that rather than worrying about the past or future we should “consume” Him. We should allow Him to fill our bodies and souls. We should seek first His Kingdom, not ours, and in doing so we can live with Joy and happiness in the presence of this day.
So as we draw this reflection to a close, perhaps it would be better to consider the analogy of a hour glass glued to a table top that can’t be flipped over, rather than the play button on a DVR. You can’t reset the time, and you can’t flip the hour glass over, and like the sands in the hour glass our life will eventually run out. So we need to trust in our Lord, and be fully present in each day of life.
I spend so much time reliving yesterday or anticipating tomorrow
that I lose sight of the only time that is really mine, the present moment. You give today one moment at a time. That’s all I have, all I ever will have. Give the faith which knows that each moment contains exactly what is best for me. Give the hope which trusts You enough to forget past failings and future trials. Give the love which makes each moment an anticipation of eternity with You. We ask this in the name of Jesus Who is the same yesterday, today and forever? Amen.
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