Sunday, April 19, 2009

A little more living by the day...

A couple of possible opportunities have me thinking far too much in the future (and regretting bits of the past.) Today's sabbath sermon from Henry Wilder Foote on the Lord's Prayer (part of a series deferred during Lent) is a good reminder...


Give us this day our daily bread. — Matt. vi. 11.

WE have felt, I think, as we have gone on together meditating on the successive clauses of our Lord's great prayer that it was more full of teaching, of doctrine in the true meaning of the word, than we had supposed. And now as we come to the first petition which touches our personal wants, there is a lesson for us in the very place which this link holds in this golden chain which binds His asking children to the throne of God. This is the first word in which we speak of our own needs. We have approached our God not merely in the attitude of suppliants before an omnipotent Monarch, but as children coming to their Father; we have prayed that His Name may be hallowed; that men may know Him in His perfect attributes and may worthily honor Him; that His kingdom, which is over all, may more and more prevail; that His perfect will may be done, not simply borne, with free, willing service, everywhere as it is by the blessed ones in heaven. All this has taken you away from yourself, if you have really prayed it; it has filled the universe for you with God, nay, has not filled it, but has opened your eyes to see His fullness in it, who filleth all things. It seems as if Christ said to us, Wait, before you venture to ask for yourself. At the threshold of the Temple, lay aside all selfish thoughts, and try to make your own soul a living temple; have done that, you can trust yourself to approach the altar and ask your gift from it...

But the prayer is only for this day. Again, how strange a contrast to the temper of our anxious, foreboding way of life, which is continually borrowing from tomorrow care to cloud the happiest present! Are we to say, then, that Christ really taught that we were to live as if there were no morrow, with spendthrift lavishness beggaring our future, or with indolent acquiescence leaving it unguarded ? Did he mean that we were so to consider the fowls of the air and the lilies of the field ? The question is its own answer. We interpret Christ by Christ; and in the spirit of his religion, and in other words of his, we find the meaning, and in our own lives abundantly the wisdom of his warnings against that feverish worry and strain, that rush after wealth at any price, those discontents and repinings which spoil the sweetness and mar the peace of so many. There are few of us who would not be helped if they could be met tomorrow in their hurry down town by one who would say to them, " A little more living by the day in the wise quiet of a sober mind would not hurt you, my friend. Try, for to-day, to possess your soul in patience. You have this day to live in. Put all the life into it you can, of goodness and love and trust.

Give us this day our daily bread." I suppose there is no single sentence in the Bible or in all literature more in contrast with the average habit of mind of the average man of our time. Daily bread! is that what he is striving for, slaving for, wearing out his life to get ? It does not in any wise follow that it would not do him good to try honestly to tone down his desires to this bounded limit. One thing is certain, — the richest man in America really gets for his wages only his food and clothes and a roof over his head. If he wins real respect, it is because his character justifies it; if he has intellectual tastes or pleasures to enrich his life, his money does not buy them. And if we would school ourselves to ask for daily bread, meaning a more sober limit on our hot ambitions, our race after money, our temptations to luxurious life, we should bring whole new horizons of light into our spirits."

Just today, "put all the life into it you can." Blessings

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