Let’s begin our exploration of our future at its most immediate location: Today.
My dad has a phrase I’ve used a lot in the past couple decades: “He’s the God of 11:59.” In other words, God intervenes in our lives when he’s supposed to, at our time of deepest need—not when we think he ought to show up, or when it would be easiest for us. Those who constantly take faith-filled risks live in 11:59. The rest of us would do well to remember that 11:59 might, in fact, be the best place to live our lives.
Peter wrote the following about the Day of the Lord, but I believe it applies pretty well on this day, too: “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:8–9).
What I interpret as God’s slowness in making my life less stressful is, rather, his patience in waiting for me to repent. God is waiting for me to be willing to live in 11:59—to fully accept the easy yoke of Jesus, so that I move at his correct pace, knowing that his provision will always be there when I need it, and that his provision to me in fact brings him glory. Thus, I’m also often been fond of adding a corollary phrase to my dad’s:
“I need to reset my watch.”
The truth is, we often have no clue about God’s timing. But a good rule of thumb is this: Remove yourself, and anything else other than the God you trust in, from the equation—which is also to say, remove the pain that “waiting” brings to you—then view the situation again. At that point in time when it’s clear there’s nothing you can do to meet that need, there God will be.
I’m writing today’s entry in such a season. Over the past year, things I thought I could depend on—schedules, promises, routines, people—have failed or fallen by the wayside. My wife and I are in a place where each week could be the one when we no longer can successfully pay the bills, when work may or may not come. And yet, weeks, months, and years like this have now gone by, and a check or an assignment arrives in time, or the money went further than expected. Thus, if we look at the situation objectively rather than with an anxiety about our future, the fact is . . . we lack nothing.
We are already residing in eternity, even here. The more I realize that, the less I need to worry that God will take care of our needs. We all have to rely on God, whether we care to admit that or not. The blessing, when it comes right down to it, is when we realize that and live as if it were true. Because it is.
Matthew 6—the center of the Sermon on the Mount—is loaded with Jesus’ assertions about our future: the Lord’s Prayer; the promise that our private giving and fasting will be rewarded openly; the encouragement to store up treasures in heaven rather than on earth; but most apparently in the following passage used by every one of us who worry about the future—thus, I’ll step aside and let Jesus close today’s thoughts, because after all they’re about today:
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25–34)
Lay It Down Today
We’re going to be spend some extra time in the Word over the next several entries, to discipline ourselves in this habit. But first, let’s try a little experiment. Find a watch or a clock with a second hand. Then, do not be anxious: Close your eyes and wait before Jesus right now. In fact, do it for exactly 1 minute and 59 seconds—or at least what you think is 1 minute and 59 seconds. Keep your eyes closed until you think that amount of time has passed, then look up. Note how close you were (or weren’t). Read Matthew 6:25–34 again, then reflect:
- How hard was it to still yourself and wait, for not even two minutes? What kinds of things went through your head during that time? Why?
- Why do we seem to be able to do everything but wait? Why does that make us so uncomfortable?
Close your eyes once more—this time to pray. Ask God to “reset your watch,” that you can live more within his perfect will and timing, free from anxiety about your future—including your future today.