He: No water. No electricity. Food shortages. Gas lines. Over-population.
In other words, a pretty bleak world. Fear, anxiety, despair, anger, selfishness, greed are common reactions to thoughts about tomorrow. How do you react when you think about tomorrow? Ron, in his devotional, suggests a different way of looking at our time on earth.
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Mt. 6:34 The Message
My society is time-sick, and sometimes I, too, come down with the bug. Its first symptom is a constant feeling of the scarcity of time. Every time I live with one foot in today and one in “tomorrow,” I have violated a mental boundary and a sacred spiritual border of faith. How different from the serene and energized Jesus! He was committed to the discipline of living within His Father's flashlight beam: one day of light at a time. If day after day I feel tired, I ask, “Have I wandered into the Godless land of underestimating this discipline?”
Interestingly, modern psychological research affirms the effectiveness of Jesus’ approach. Magnetic Resonance Imaging reveals the limbic, primal brain always reacts to tomorrow’s potential dangers first. Wired in over millions of years, every brain “awfulizes before it analyzes.” The analytical brain can easily become a sideline spectator, hijacked by the emotional brains projections of all sorts of awful outcomes. If I let it, my instinctual emotional brain becomes like a domesticated cat becoming predatory and bringing home unwelcome dead mice. The key question becomes “How can I keep unwanted anxieties out?”
Whenever I stay in Jesus’ one task-at-a-time mode, my mind naturally pushes aside other worries. Today's doable duties project positive images. The human mind is happier feasting on the mental dish called “what is doable today.“ When I detour off focus, I make myself return “entire attention to right now.“
What about when things start to pile up during my day? My mother taught me a Christ-like motto: “Things will look different tomorrow.“ Knotty problems can be mysteriously loosened by the heavenly talisman of one night’s sweet rest:
When the magic of sleep erases nightime‘s dark
With the welcome sound of morning lark,
I awaken under the bright and morning star
Of a fresh perspective as a gift from Afar. (R. S)
Want more energy and joy? Jesus‘ models this foundational discipline: trust God for tomorrow and give your entire attention to right now. When I underestimate it I pay the price of more fatigue and less joyful living.
Decision for Today
To catch anxious images and thoughts before they rule my mind. I want to trust more today, let tomorrow go.
Inch by inch anything is a cinch. Thought by thought is battle well fought.
About the Author: Ron Shackelford is a pastor (honorably retired) and licensed marriage and family therapist. He is the author of Married to an Opposite: Making Personality Differences Work For You. Other devotionals on this blog by Ron include The Vulnerable Bible, The Learning Man and Moved By Joy.