I barely heard her say it: “Isn’t that beautiful?”
I looked at my wife and mustered up my typical response, “Huh?”
“That tree,” she said, pointing at a beautiful Autumn Flame maple tree, “isn’t it beautiful?”
It was Monday morning. I was so caught up in figuring out the swirl of the week ahead that I wasn’t even seeing the beauty of God’s world around me. I was thinking about the appointments, the task list, all that needed to be accomplished that week. I was going way beyond that task list with swirling anxious thoughts about the future, “How in the world are we going to make disciples of the seemingly disinterested people of Walker, Michigan?”
My wife interrupted my “spin cycle” by simply pointing to the beauty of God’s creation. I’m thankful. She ministered to me. She made me realize that often I get so caught up in the swirl of thinking about the week ahead and the future … that I miss the beauty all around.
Has this ever happened to you?? Have you ever been so caught up in the swirl of the day, the week, the mission, vision, budget, … for the next year—that you miss the beauty of the day? Have you ever missed giving thanks to God for what is right before your eyes TODAY?
Are you a spinner?
Here’s a tell-tale sign that you are a chronic “spinner” just like me. You are a “spinner” if your conversation is littered with phrases like this: “I never get ahead;” “I always have interruptions that keep me from getting my work done;” “I didn’t get anywhere today;” “I’ll never get caught up;” “I just feel like I’m failing.” Sound familiar? Let me interrupt your spin cycle by pointing to God’s BEAUTY. His name is Jesus. He saves us from the spin cycle. Not only does He forgive His repentant children for worry and idolatry of self, He gives us guidance that lifts us out of the spin cycle and turns our eyes, hearts, and minds toward the beauty and salvation of God. One of the ways Jesus does this is by teaching us to pray, “Our Father…”
Rescue for spinners
The whole prayer is rescue for spinners, but I would like to simply point you to the beauty of the Fourth Petition of the Lord’s Prayer: “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11 ESV; Luke 11:3). I’d also like to point a few verses beyond this petition to Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:33–34, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore, do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
The Fourth Petition is definitely about physical bread and the daily and immediate needs of the body. Jesus teaches often that God’s work is not just spiritual. God’s work is very physical. He gives the hungry something to eat and the thirsty something to drink and He clothes the naked. He teaches us to be people of mercy who do the same. BUT this petition is about more than just food and water and clothes and shelter. This petition is about all our daily physical needs and tasks. Listen to what Luther says in the Small Cathechism:
“Give us this day our daily bread.”
What does this mean? God certainly gives daily bread to everyone without our prayers, even to all evil people, but we pray in this petition that God would lead us to realize this and to receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is meant by daily bread? Daily bread includes everything that has to do with the support and needs of the body, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, animals, money, good, a devout husband or wife, devout children, devout workers, devout and faithful rulers, good government, good weather, peace, health, self-control, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors, and the like (CPH 2008, pp. 189–90).
Look at the list carefully. What are you spinning about “daily” that is not included in this list? In question 222 in the Small Catechism we are asked: “Why does Jesus have us say ‘this day’ and ‘daily’?” The answer, “These words teach us not to be greedy or wasteful or to worry about the future but to live contentedly in the confidence that the Lord will give us what we need” (Luther’s Small Catechism with Explanation, 2008). Friends, the risen Lord will give us what we need “daily” (and leftovers! John 6:12). “Cast all your anxieties on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
Jesus invites us to “live contentedly in the confidence that HE will give us what we need” DAILY. This word DAILY unleashes mighty Gospel power in our hearts.
“Daily” calls us to FAITH and RELATIONSHIP and FREEDOM
With the word “daily,” Jesus calls us to the freedom of depending on our Father and not the stress of depending on our own strength or what we have stored up. The parable of the rich fool teaches us that “daily dependence” is much safer than managing to spin yourself to independent wealth and success (Luke 12:13–21). “Daily” dependence on Jesus is the relational call of our Baptism. Our Baptism points to our beautiful Savior and calls us to die to our self and our agenda and rise in the victorious Jesus, Who will surely provide for our daily needs in all of life. This is true freedom.
“Daily” sets us free to GIVE
When we worry about tomorrow we aren’t so free to joyfully give our time, talents, and treasures TODAY. We ration our time, talents, and treasures in accord with our future plans. Future plans are good and an important part of stewardship, but future plans are always servant to what the LORD has planned for us DAILY. The brother of our Lord, James, whose plans were changed by a surprise visit from his risen Brother would agree. “Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that’” (James 4:15).
“Daily” sets us free to GIVE. Do you remember the story of the widow’s mite? (Mark 12:41–44) What enabled the widow to lovingly GIVE ALL SHE HAD? She was living in a trust relationship with the LORD. The widow knew the mite she gave was not what sustained her. The mite she had would not secure her future. She knew the LORD, Who provided the mite for “her today,” would provide for “her tomorrow.” DAILY sets the redeemed free to give. The Father who gave us His first and best in His Son enables us to live DAILY as people of GRACE. We are free to give all our time, talents, and treasures today because the Father who gave His Son up for us all will also, certainly, give us what we need tomorrow.
“Daily” frees us to see the risen Jesus walking among us today
Do you remember the story of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13–35)? They were spinning so incessantly about what would happen with the “Jesus movement” tomorrow that they almost missed Jesus walking with them TODAY. The risen Lord Jesus walks among His children still! We see Him in the freshness of our Baptism as we DAILY die and rise through Him. We see Him in “the breaking of the bread” as often as we celebrate The Lord’s Supper. Our hearts burn within us as we read, hear, and meditate on the Word of God. We see Him in the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren when two or three or more are gathered in the name of Jesus. Jesus is walking among us TODAY. “Daily” sets us free to see Him and join Him in His Great Commission work all around us.
“Daily” sets us free to see what Jesus is doing in the “interruption”
Do you remember the story of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1–10)? Messianic hopes and the coming of the kingdom are filling the hearts of Jesus’ followers. There’s a large expectant crowd all around Jesus as He reaches Jericho. The crowd has dropped everything to walk with Jesus. They have big plans for the day. Their minds are spinning with all that will happen as the Son of David ascends on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem—the City of the King. Jesus interrupts their spinning. He walks away from the crowd and peers up into a sycamore tree at a sinner. He says to the short chief tax collector perched in the tree in an attempt to get a peek at Him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house TODAY!” The parade of spinning is stopped. I wonder if this happens to us on a daily basis. I wonder if the risen Jesus Whom we follow is still stopping along the way so that sinners can meet Him. That day in Jericho, when the crowd’s plans and expectations were interrupted and Zacchaeus met Jesus, the population of heaven increased and the population of hell was decreased. It all happened because of an interruption. The Son of man is still seeking to save the lost. “Daily” sets us free to be part of what Jesus is doing in the “interruption.”
Our Father, give us this day our daily bread. AMEN!
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