Day-by-Day

Yesterday I went to see the new Christopher Robin movie. It follows the story of Christopher Robin as a little boy in the Hundred Acre Wood with his companions Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Rabbit, Owl, and Roo. As many of you know, each of these characters take on a special personality that win our affections for them. The new movie that came out yesterday focused upon the life of Christopher Robin as he transitions out of adolescence and into the complexities of the “real world.” After starting a family, serving England in the war, and returning to a corporate job in a necessitous economy, Christopher Robin soon gets caught in the endless cycle of failing to balance a work-life schedule. The wonder of his childhood fades away as he begins to buy into the web of lies surrounding the advancement and security of his career at the expense of his family. He rationalizes his absence from his family claiming he has to provide the best life he can for his only daughter. Little does he realize that his very presence in the home is the best life he can provide for his daughter. It’s a picturesque story we’ve heard a thousand times in which a parent (or parents) claim warrant for their absence from the home through the security of a job and economic prosperity.

Toward the end of the first quarter of the movie, Christopher Robin’s boss throws an extra project on him because their company needs to make some cuts in their budget.  This unfortunate situation forces him to change the Robin family’s plans to spend time at Christopher Robin’s childhood cottage in the country. When he breaks the news to his wife, she is obviously upset. Christopher Robin responds that he has to keep the job in order to provide the best life for their daughter and for his wife in the future. She sardonically responds, “This is your life right now. Me, right in front of you. Look! Open your eyes!”

At the end of the movie Christopher Robin finally realizes his detachment from his family and from reality, and he sits down next to Winnie the Pooh on the old log underneath the waning tree that overlooks the valley beyond the Hundred Acre Wood. Pooh asks, “what is your favorite day Christopher Robin?” To which he responds, “Oh, you silly ole bear, it is today.” Though this is a bear of “very little brain,” he helps Christopher Robin finally realize there is profound truth in the reality that there is no day like today. He opens his eyes to what’s right in front of him and that makes all the difference in the world.

Seeing this movie and watching the narrative unfold inflicted some spiritual irony on me. The premise of living a day-by-day faith is something that seems to keep coming up in my life over the past couple weeks. As I enter my senior year of college, I feel faced with the uncertainty of what will come following graduation. I feel uncertainty about whether to do more schooling, to find a job somewhere, or to move internationally for a period of time. I feel uncertainty about where I’ll be geographically. I feel uncertainty about what life will look like leaving my best friends. I feel uncertainty about what finding a new church in a new city will look like. You get the point…I simply feel a lot of uncertainty. And though uncertainty is not a bad thing, I have seen it unfortunately lead to worry in my life. More than that, I have seen it trigger a control mechanism in my brain in which I will meticulously plan out the future so that I don’t have to worry about that uncertainty anymore. It is an unhealthy trait in me that often steals the joy from my present circumstances because I fail to truly live like it’s today. I’m always thinking about tomorrow. At the root of this is a distrust in God’s provision for the past, the present, and the future.  Because I don’t trust God as I should, I fail to accept the good gifts he provides today.

God, again in his grace, brought me to Deuteronomy this past week where this truth is played out in the lives of the Israelites. God’s word records, “And you shall remember the whole way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments or not. And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” – Deuteronomy 8:2-3

To give some brief context, this passage is referencing the time in which the Israelites were wandering the wilderness and complaining about having no food. Cue our gracious God into action. He rains down manna from heaven for the Israelites to sustain themselves. However, he gives them a stipulation to his provision when he commands them to only gather enough for the day. In doing so, he forces them to trust him in a day-by-day fashion.

God will give us what we need for today and today only. When tomorrow comes, God will provide again. It’d be easy to just store up enough manna (God’s provision) for a year, but God know us better than this. He knows that we would inevitably forget him if we took his provision for granted in the long term. This is why it can be so dangerous to meticulously plan out your future or to even worry about your future. We want everything to be in control, so we meticulously plan everything, but the reality is that God’s provision can’t be stored; we have to simply trust him in the day-by-day structure of life. It’s interesting to me as well that Moses records that man should not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. He essentially equates God’s word with God’s tangible provision. These two things cannot be separated as we often like to do. Yes, as humans, we have physical needs, but part of the provision for those physical needs is in trusting God’s word that he will provide. We must not separate those two things. To trust God’s word is to trust that he will provide.   

What would it look like if we as Christians could simply trust in God day-to-day? What would it look like if we could simply open our eyes each day and focus upon what’s in front of us for today and then trust in the Lord’s provision for tomorrow when tomorrow comes? Today, I must focus on growing in my intimacy with God through the reading of his word (Psalm 119:105; John 15:7), through communing with him in prayer (Jeremiah 29:12; Ephesians 6:18), and through commitment to engage in spiritual community (Proverbs 17:17; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:13-14). Beyond that, I will tackle today’s task one at a time not worrying about what tomorrow will bring. The problem with worrying about tomorrow or only thinking about the future is that it steals the joy from today. If I am present and engaged today and today only, then my eyes will see so much more beauty in everything. I want to see the beauty in hearing about someone’s above average lunch, in the towering oak trees I pass everyday on the way to work, and in God’s common grace to provide something as simple as the warm touch of the sun on my impressionable skin. I want to truly believe the words of Winnie the Pooh: “There is no day like today.”

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…” (Matthew 6:25-34). Oh may the Lord empower me…may he empower you…to live a life of day-by-day faith that begins with seeking his kingdom and his righteousness first. May the Lord empower us to trust in his provision through his Word. Because apart from these things, we have no hope, and we will not be able to live as if it is today.

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