Friday, July 11, 2008

Not for a Ten-Course Banquet

Dale Carnegie's classic book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living has this to say of that much-quoted line from the Lord's Prayer, "Give us today our daily bread" (Mt. 6:11, NIV):

"Remember that that prayer asks only for today's bread. It doesn't complain about the stale bread we had to eat yesterday; and it doesn't say, 'Oh, God, it has been pretty dry out in the wheat belt lately and we may have another drought--and then how will I get bread to eat next fall--or suppose I lose my job--oh, God, how could I get bread then?'... Today's bread is the only kind of bread you can possibly eat."

Nor can we eat a lifetime's worth at one sitting--which is just as well when we consider how much fat reserve we'd have to build up to last us thirty or forty years. We'd get so big we'd need several square miles of standing room apiece!

The idea is no more ludicrous than the attitude of the rich fool in Luke 12:18-19: "I will store all my grain and my goods. And I'll say to myself, 'You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.'" The rich fool has no shortage of modern-day counterparts, those whose primary goal in life is to save enough for a comfortable and early retirement, on the assumption that life and society can be counted on to indefinitely continue as they "always" have. Ask these people what they would have to show for their lives if they died tomorrow, and they change the subject as fast as they can.

One of the hardest things for human beings to accept is that we are not in control, that our most carefully made plans can be ruined, that we not only are not gods of our own lives, but have no right to be. Moreover, it is useless to ask the real God for extensive details on the future; He is too wise to trust us with such knowledge. Far more than setting our minds at ease that "everything will be all right" in terms of earthly sufficiency, He is interested in building our faith to the point we can trust Him that everything will ultimately be all right.

Even if we miss a meal or two on the way to eternity.

Not for a ten-course banquet,
Nor for a chocolate cake--
Just plain, good bread let us pray for,
All the food we need to take.

Not to complain of past meals,
Nor demand next year's store--
Just one day's food our petition;
Indeed, we can eat no more.

Let us not live distracted
By past, nor future dim--
But, nourished each day by Jesus,
Each moment content in Him.

Not for the dead past decades,
Nor unsure days to be--
Let us live for God at present,
Till we reach eternity.

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