As we begin our journey down the highway called 2018, is it possible for us to travel being unafraid and less anxious about what might happen and/or will happen come what may? No matter how much we prepare for the unknown, how do we stop being intimidated by the unpredictable? What does not completely eliminate my fears but does shrink my fears’ impact is to shift my focus from that which I don’t know to that which I do know for sure, come what may.
For example, I know for sure that I will not have to live but one day at a time. That is all we have. One day, 24 hours, then another day begins.
In 1971, our family (two adults and three children ages 14, 10, 8) made an extensive trip out West. We traveled about 8,000 miles through 16 states over a period of 30 days in one car. People looked at us with wondering eyes and asked “How did you do it?”
I simply replied, “One day at a time.”
We endured all the fussing and whining, eye strain from driving, packing and unpacking, car troubles, providing snack food for daytime travel, finding affordable regular meal places, location of lodging for the night – all one day at a time. If we had tried to accumulate all the stresses and strains, we would not have made it.
What makes it difficult to live one day at a time is the fact that we can’t turn loose of the past – what might have been, if only, or we worry ourselves silly over what might happen tomorrow or next week or next month …
Yesterday is gone with all its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Tomorrow has not been born. This leaves only one day – TODAY – and we all can fight the battle of just one day. It is only when we burden ourselves with YESTERDAY and TOMORROW that we break down. So, the first thing we know for sure is that we only have to LIVE ONE DAY AT A TIME.
The second thing we know for sure is the fact that we will not have to face whatever happens alone. God will be there to help us cope, endure and prevail.
One day I was painting my ceiling in my home when I accidentally spilled a gallon of paint on my den floor, which was tile. My first reaction was panic, and then I called out for God to help me. My admission of helplessness to God brought to bear upon the problem all of God’s power and wisdom. Fortunately the paint was thick, so I simply rolled my roller through the spilled paint and applied it to the ceiling. Then when I had finished, I wiped up what remained on the tile floor.
Then there was the time I went to get something out of my outside freezer, when the door came off in hands. Once again my first reaction was to panic and cry for help from God. My shattered nerves became calm and I was able to focus on what remained intact, namely the top hinge and the magnetic sealer around the door. Then I was able to replace the door over the opening until I could secure the help I needed to deal with a permanent solution. The blessed promise of the Holy Spirit with all the resources of heaven can turn trying times into triumphs.
Another fact we know for sure to help us face the New Year is the providence of God to help us work through our mistakes, bad decisions, accidents and failures. The key for God helping us is our being absolutely honest with God about ourselves. Let’s face it. We can be stubborn as a mule at times, set in our ways, hard-headed, bound and determined that things have got to happen our way according to our timetable. God knows those things about us, but God wants us to admit it to him and thus admit we need his help to work through all things that happen to us for our benefit. (to fulfill Romans 8:28)
This past year, I fell backward while getting out of the shower. Due to the slippery condition and the position I lay in, I could not regain my footing. My wife had to call 911. The ambulance took me to the ER at the hospital where all kinds of tests were done to make sure I did not have any broken bones. All the bone tests proved negative, but it was revealed that I had an infection in my spine. I was later informed that if the infection had not been discovered it would have led to my premature death.
Was my fall purely accidental or part of God’s providence? Further dealing with the infection led to future spinal surgery to curtail pain in my back and legs. God works in mysterious ways to accomplish his will for our lives. God not only knows what needs to happen, but will send his Holy Spirit to make it happen one way or another, provided we stay in a prayerful state asking for his divine intervention.
There is a lot we don’t know about what is going to happen in 2018; therefore, let’s focus on those things we do know for sure, such as living one day at a time, not having to face anything alone, and the gracious providence of God. God will never let us down!
The Rev. (Dr.) Gene Norris is a retired Presbyterian pastor in Augusta.