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The Impermanence Of The Now

What is the grace for today?

My late wife Aletha used to ask me this when I would get stressed out or overly anxious. So, basically every day.

What she meant was that there is a specific grace given to us each day, a unique gift of provision the Lord is offering us. If we don’t stop to look for it, to ask for it, we’ll miss it. So don’t borrow from tomorrow’s troubles (Matthew 6:34). Don’t even worry about today’s troubles.

We only have this day, this moment, once. There are no do-overs. If I spend all my “nows” worrying about the future “what ifs” or past “how comes,” I miss the joys – the soul-anchoring provisions from the Lord – often hiding in plain sight. Give us this day our daily bread (Matthew 6:11). There is new bread each day.

Speaking of new bread each day, we’ve come across something like this elsewhere in the Bible. In Exodus, after the Israelites had escaped Egypt and crossed the Red Sea, they ran out of food. So God rained down bread from heaven for them to eat. Every morning, a white substance that tasted of wafers made with honey covered the ground. 

The Lord provided, without fail. Every single time.

Another interesting thing to remember is that if the Israelites tried to store more manna than they needed for each day, it went bad. Each day brought new manna – new grace. What sustained the Israelites yesterday would not sustain the Israelites today. A continual trust, reliance and submission was required of them. 

We, too, need a fresh supply of manna-grace (my word, not translated from Hebrew) each day. I don’t think we are to use yesterday's grace to carry us through today. There are probably seasons where this will work and is perhaps all we can muster. Furthermore, the Lord’s grace can carry us farther than we can hope to imagine and I’m hesitant about putting limits and constraints on the grace of God. But there is something to be said about learning to trust, rely on, and submit to the Lord each and every day in a new way.

This Shelter-in-Place has really done a number on me. It has slowly and steadily etched away at my soul, peeling back layer upon layer. I’m not sure I like the parts of me that it’s revealing. This last week was particularly rough. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to make it. I got dragged down into the Pit Of Despair and I started to believe that I was always going to feel this way, that things were never going to change. (Ironically, this seems to be the only way I’m good at being fully present in the “now” – when things are awful).

But things change. They always do. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, even if I can't see it. The darkness dissipates. My feelings subside. The sun sets and then it rises again, each day bringing some new grace to carry me along if only I’ll allow it in. Just because I feel a certain way does not mean I will always feel this way. Now is not permanent. What I am experiencing now, what I am feeling now, is never permanent.

It is likely that the desert I’m currently in will not last 40 years as it did for the Israelites (though it sure does feel like it). But if I am to make it through, it might behoove me to implement some of the same practices of trust they modeled.

Over the last week I’ve tried to take practical steps in looking out for the day’s manna. Each morning, I would make a new image for my phone wallpaper with Aletha’s question, "What is the grace for today?" Every time I picked up my phone it was a reminder to me to stop for a moment and re-align my thoughts and feelings. (Feel free to download the images at the end of this blog and use them, or make your own).

If I don’t live in the present, I will miss the provisions the Lord has set before me right now. If I focus too much on the past or the future, all my “nows” will run right past me and I will not have truly lived, my soul still struggling to find rest in His presence. And if I dwell too much on the negative aspects of the struggles I’m facing in this moment right now, I risk losing sight of God’s greater plan. What a tightrope to walk, a daily delicate dance to be fully present in each moment yet not become completely absorbed by it. Thankfully, the same God who led the Israelites through the wilderness still leads us out of our own deserts today (though likely with a still small voice instead of a pillar of fire or smoke).

Our now is not permanent. Whether good or bad, we only have this moment once. What is the grace being given to you today?