When was the last time you went to bed at night excited and motivated about the next day? I hope you said just last night or that’s how I feel most of the time. When you got up this morning did you greet the day with “Good morning, Lord!” or did you say “Good Lord, it’s morning.”? I hope you were the one who, with a light heart and bright smile said “Good morning, Lord! What can we do together today?”
My emotions are fickle. Are yours? Many nights I go to sleep looking forward to the next day, maybe not with Disney dream anticipation, but ready to get sleep over with so I can get tomorrow started. Then there are times when my formidable emotions are like a steam roller and flatten the expectancy out of me. Do you ever feel that way? I was complaining to the Lord about this, and the next morning one of the first things I read was Psalm 5:3 “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.” If David can say it, I can say it too. My requests won’t be the same as his, but we have the same God. My request was, “Lord, what am I doing wrong that is robbing me of joy and expectancy for the tomorrows you have planned for me?” I didn’t get my answer like a blinding light from heaven like Saul (aka Apostle Paul) in the book of Acts, but I have been receiving answers.
Yesterday I posted a prelude but here’s the rest of the story.
It should be so obvious but – Have you ever tried to walk forward while looking back? Right! It doesn’t work. I’ve gotten a few bumps and bruises to prove it. Nor do we get the results we want if we obsess about the past and keep looking back when trying to move forward in anticipation of a goal or even the next day. Enthusiasm is quickly extinguished when it’s covered over and smothered by our past. Sometimes we have to step back just for a moment in order to move ahead. In a way it’s examining what I knew in light of what is new …
What I knew: My most prominent spiritual gift is to encourage others. Most of the time, it takes no effort, but on occasion I have to carve out a few hours to exercise my gift because it honors God. Isn’t that why we have gifts? 1 Corinthians 12:7 says “A spiritual gift is given to each of us so we can help each other.” A part of my spiritual gift is to help others. Consequently I say yes a lot.
What is new: My capacity over the past year has brought new insight into how many times I can say yes and still go to sleep at night anticipating and looking forward to the next day with joy and enthusiasm. In Lamentations 3, I think the people in that time were feeling pretty distraught and burdened. In verse 20 it actually says I will never forget this awful time – what they knew is that this was a time they never wanted to repeat. But then in the next verse it talks about how they dare to hope because of what is new every morning. Lamentations 3:21-25 “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I will hope in him!” The Lord is good to those who depend on him, to those who search for him.”
God is teaching me some important thing about anticipation. There is nothing that can be done about yesterday. I have slowly been releasing myself of the need to say yes to things that are worthy activities, but they are not right for me. It’s like being one of the pieces in a jigsaw puzzle marathon that fell off the table. In the menagerie of opportunity I now need to find which of those puzzles I belong to. The future ahead of me bears little resemblance to the life of my past. I can’t bring glory to God and honor him if I’m stuck back there when God is leading me onto new paths.
I wasn’t sure I would share this verse with you, but why not? It really spoke to me as I was struggling through this quandary of lost enthusiasm. Jeremiah 13:16 says, “Give glory to the Lord your God before it is too late. Acknowledge him before he brings darkness upon you, causing you to stumble and fall on the darkening mountains. For then, when you look for light, you will find only terrible darkness and gloom.” See what I mean? I don’t like to talk about darkness and gloom. But there you have it.
God created us spirit, mind, and body. When one part is reneging on its part, or is just too weary to act, we can’t bring our best selves into the game of life. Proverbs 14:22 tells us, “If you plan to do evil, you will be lost; if you plan to do good, you will receive unfailing love and faithfulness.”
Don’t you want to go to bed every night anticipating tomorrow? Isn’t it what everyone wants – to be enthusiastic about the future? Wouldn’t you rather have unfailing love and faithfulness? Me too. Philippians 3:13-14 says “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Learn from the past. Don’t live in it. Learn from the past so your future doesn’t turn out the same as it did back there.
Just as I was posting this, my prayer partner texted me this verse and it fits perfectly. “As for me, I look to the Lord for help. I wait confidently for God to save me, and my God will certainly hear me.” Micah 7:7