Happy New Day!

Isn’t the title wrong?  Shouldn’t it be Happy New Year?  Sometimes it seems like I’m the only one who doesn’t think so.  It’s not that I don’t want people to have a happy 2012.  But I think there is something people forget as they leave 2011 behind as a good riddance, while welcoming 2012 with declarations of how much better it will be.  Wasn’t it the same last year, and the year before that, and the year before that?  This 2011 we are so glad to leave is the very one we were so anxious to welcome only a year ago.

What we fail to consider in the midst of the excitement of a new year beginning is life continuing to happen in the new year, much as it did in the old.  Maybe not the exact same things, but we can be sure there will be challenges of many different kinds over the course of a year.  We tend to let those difficulties and challenges color our recollection of the old year.  We miss so much living this way, but we don’t have to.  While Jesus assured us we would have troubles in this world, He also gave us a different way to live in the midst of those troubles.  Take heart, I have overcome the world!1

It’s called a new mindset, with a focus not of this world.  It’s called living in God’s daily grace.  Many years ago, while caring for my aging father, I began to learn the only way to stay above being overwhelmed with all I had to do, for however many days upon days, months upon months, or years upon years it would continue.  Though my self-pitying prayer always concerned how much longer I would have to live this way, He guided me lovingly back to living in His grace for me . . . today.  That was all I needed for the situation and the day – His daily grace.

You see, our Jesus is always with us – present tense – and His grace is always with us in the present, not the future.  So, regarding this calendar year, listen to the prophetic voices if you want.  Let Holy Spirit stir your hope and give you direction in the midst of it.  Just remember, He won’t show you everything you will face this year because He knows it’s more than you can handle.2  But He will walk with you through every hour of every day, and His grace will be sufficient.

It’s amazing how much less power the negative stuff of life has over you when you choose to live with this daily grace mindset.  You will find yourself looking up to Jesus and His grace in that peace that passes all natural understanding, even in the midst of unforeseen and severe troubles.

Because of the daily grace of our God in Christ Jesus, we can daily declare Psalm 118:24, regardless of what we face:  This is the day the Lord has made; that’s why I will rejoice and be glad in it. (KPV – Kay’s personal version)

Happy New Day! 

1 John 16:33 
2 John 16:12

Living in the Now

Right up front, I want to let you know this is a lesson I have not yet completed.  Even writing about it has been a struggle, which makes me more determined not only to write about it, in hopes of helping you who read it, but also to get it working consistently in my own life.  I’m talking about living in the now.  Let me share with you the simple way the Lord brought it back to my attention.

Not long ago, there was an article in the Parade magazine by Cesar Milan (Dog Whisperer) about the lessons we can learn from our dogs.  One particular part of it really caught my attention – about dogs just being happy to be alive, and celebrating each thing they do, no matter how many times they have done it.  To them, it’s the best walk they’ve ever had, the greatest dog food they’ve eaten, or the most wonderful tummy rub they’ve ever received!  They definitely live in the now.

I do realize that dogs don’t have all the issues of life that we do, and part of their living in the now really comes from living for the now, which is not what we need.  I do believe, though, that we could find much more contentment if we tried things their way a bit more.  They are so delighted with whatever it is they are doing right now because they are not focused so much on what comes next, or in the next day, or week, or month.  They give their all to whatever they are engaged in that very moment.  When that is over, they give their all to the next thing – even if it is merely sleep.  The Bible addresses this kind of attitude with clear admonishment.

Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble.” AMP

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day the Lord  has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  NIV

As to whether I am worried or anxious about all the tomorrow issues, I’m not certain, but I do know that I think about them – a lot.  Because I have an administrative gift from the Lord, I plan and organize.  On its own, that is not a problem, and is a necessary part of life.  When it’s not kept in balance, it keeps me from living in the now, for I’m always thinking about what I will do in the next hour, day, week, or month.  This means I’m really living in the future right now.  Even when I’m supposed to be in rest and recreation, my planning mind is mulling things over.  Rarely do I truly engage fully in an activity, because at least part of my mind is elsewhere.  I know this is not how the Lord wants me (or any of us) to live.  This is the day, or the hour, or the moment the Lord has made.  I want to rejoice and be glad in it – fully and completely giving my all in it, even if it’s rest!   I know this is what God wants for me, and I know it is possible.

Jesus, our example, had a very full life.  In reading the gospels, though, I never get the impression that He rushed from one place to the next, or that He was only partly engaged with whoever was in His presence.  He knew that what He did this very moment, not just this whole day, was the most important thing for Him to do, regardless of what was to come.  The person who was with Him was the most important person to Him at that moment.  He gave His all day in and day out, not just when He went to the cross.  Even when He knew He was about to be arrested and crucified, He gave Himself fully to teaching the disciples during the last supper!

Besides this, when it was time to sleep, Jesus lived in the now.  It’s pretty amazing to think about His ability to sleep in the bottom of a boat that was in a major storm and filling with water!  He wasn’t in a coma; He was just living in the now in His rest!  Those times He pulled away to be with His Father, He was fully involved.  He may have been tempted to dwell on things that had happened, or things He knew were coming up, like we are, but He made the choice to put His entire focus on the Lord Himself.  Can you imagine how those times must have been?  He didn’t miss one single thing the Father wanted to show Him, say to Him, or prepare Him for, nor any of the refreshing of just being in His Presence.  The most encouraging part of this is knowing that, if Jesus could live in the now, we can, too.

My heart yearns to spend uninterrupted time like that with my Father – uninterrupted by my own thoughts and plans; to be fully involved with the person in front of me, not thinking about the next person I need to see or the next activity I need to accomplish; to relax and rest, as Jesus did when He was on the earth.  It’s not impossible!  Jesus wasn’t able to live in the now because He was God, but because He lived by the Holy Spirit, the same Holy Spirit that lives in me.  I am determined to live this same way by the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus can be seen in me – in attitude, action, word, even inaction.  Because of His completely sufficient grace, and by His Holy Spirit, I will live in the now, despite the intense battle to the contrary.  I am determined to live in the now!  To God be all the glory – right now and forever!