Life is a daily affair. Things of the past, (whether great victories or shameful failures), are gone; they no longer exist except in memory. Also, the future is a mental and emotional projection, (a collection of fantasies, fears and desires). In one sense, the past and the future are not real; we only have now.

The Creator wanted to make this point very clear as He said about the future: “Give no thought for tomorrow as the evil of the day is sufficient” (Matt.6:34); “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth” (Prov. 27:1); “You do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.” (James 4:14). He said about the past: “The harvest is past, the summer is ended” (Jer. 8:20); “In His forbearance God had passed over sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate in the present time” (Rom. 3:25-26); “Be faithful unto death” (Rev. 2:10). Faithfulness is a daily practice. We can’t practice new faithfulness in what has passed or in what may or may not be.

Mental health is related to how much a person lives in the now, not the past or the future. An example of the impact of being able to survive the past and the fantasied future that a botched past can produce is found in two cases that I treated when I was still a practicing psychotherapist.

Most deeply feel, at the core of their being, that divorce is either the ultimate failure or a great loss for the two adults and any children who are involved. Consequently, divorce has severe emotional impact, and the resulting trauma is a reality that affects lives.

Two Christian women went through divorces. One sought forgiveness, cleansing and restoration. The other woman never could admit failure. (All divorces have two people involved. Even if one party is primarily at fault, both parties are far from perfect.) Our Lord needs an humble broken heart to be able to pour His blessings out during this lifetime: “The sacrifices of God are a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17). David is a prime example of severe failure in his taking of Bathsheba; having her husband, Uriah, killed; impregnanting her; and then losing that baby to death. David had the broken and humble heart described in Psalm 51:17, and his son Solomon later was born through the same wife to lead God’s people (II Sam. 11, 12). David’s life was the same type of victory-from-ashes experience that Job was blessed with in that his future was better than his past (see Job 42).

The humble, trusting-hearted lady who could accept forgiveness and restoration was given a future far better than her past. The defensive self-chastising lady spent her life in loss. Defensiveness and denial are chief Christian enemies as they are part of the schemes of the devil (Eph. 6:11) that rob a believer of forgiveness (including self-forgiveness) and a Spirit-led powerful humanity. God’s children are to be emotionally victorious by claiming forgiveness and God’s promises, no matter how they feel. From this claiming of victory, victory comes, sometimes slowly, but victory comes.

A child of God who picks manna from the ground daily and doesn’t attempt to solve his or her problems by storing enough manna to pay for the problems of the past, or to provide for a better future, has found a secret to life (see Exodus 16). Manna was given fresh each day. Jesus is our Manna as He is “The Way, The Truth and The Life” (John14:6). His presence each day is all we need; the past and the future will take care of themselves. God’s children can trust their Lord to take care of what they have done and what they need. This truth is why Jesus said: “If you abide in Me, you shall bear much fruit" (John 15:5). One day without resting in the Vine robs a branch of the daily living sap flowing through it and begins a poor future harvest.

Looking back on the moments of the day, as we reflect in the evening, we learn that tomorrow will be influenced by moment-by-moment choices that we have made today. “One day lost is a link broken in the chain, which it often takes more than another day to mend” (Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ, p. 104).

As we mature in the Lord, we learn to judge the day’s success by whether we have abode in Jesus that day, not by what we have accomplished. Freedom of spirit comes as we no longer are chained to this world and its expectations as we rest in our relationship with Jesus. Anxiety flees as we take the great physician’s prescribed medicine given in Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Every child of God is a servant of God (Gal. 1:10) who is also a friend of God (John 15:15) and an heir of God (Gal. 4:7). Servants are to take one day at a time in the accomplishing of their responsibilities as a servant does not have responsibility for the big picture or the overall administrative plan of his or her master, which has many parts and requires many servants, each doing what he or she is assigned. An anxious servant often frustrates the master’s plan by taking too much responsibility. Without basking in what he or she has been given to do, an overachieving servant frustrates a master and is an irritant to the other servants.

On the other hand, a servant who feels threatened by another servant often is reluctant to allow the other servant to gain attention lest risk being overshadowed and out of a job. People preferring another in any way that relates to a servant's job description is a major cause of insecurity and can result in chasing that innocent party away. This insecurity is a problem in local churches if the servants are not secure in their relationship with their Lord. A secure minister is a minister who rests one day at a time in the Vine, who has promised to bring forth much fruit the branches abide in Christ.

Mothers often have a difficult time living one day at a time. Planning ahead is very necessary to children’s health. Mothers must schedule doctors’ appointments and a thousand other things far ahead to deal properly with their responsibilities. How can a mother live one day at a time?

Mothers can live one day at a time by resting in their loving and caring Lord who is the source of their strength. A mind can be scheduling appointments while a heart is trusting and a mind is remembering: “I can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). If they have learned not to judge a day by what they have accomplished in 24 hours but by whether they have lived in Jesus that day, they will sleep restfully in His arms each night.

Living one day at a time, a person lives in the now, which is all we have. By refusing to live in the past, many lives have been saved and made strong as they accept reality. Accepting each day as a gift from God, a person looks to the Creator and remembers that no person, the past or the future is his or her master; only the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord and Master. Belivers are free. They have found that freedom is the right to say yes or no.

Freedom is the mother of relaxation and the master of tension. A heart that is free is a heart that is strong and healthy and can function for a long time. The man who has ingrained in his fabric that: “It is a very small thing with me if you judge me…He that judges me is the Lord” (I Cor. 4:3-4) is a man who has done all to stand; and having done all, he stands understanding that all he must do is live one day at a time in fellowship with Jesus and in the power of the Holy Spirit. He finds that walking in the Spirit is the answer to the lusts and traumas of his predisposed to sinfulness and failure unaided humanity.

"One Day at a Time" becomes the theme of his life.

Relieved from anxiety and expectations, our hearts and minds find peace and we are prone to pray:
“Thank You, Father, for helping me see that all I have to do on my journey to heaven’s door is live one day at a time by gathering the manna, your Son’s presence, that you give fresh to us each day. He is sufficient for the day’s needs. Help me remember this day that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. You, Your Son and Your Spirit are all I need no matter what I’ve done or what this world thinks of me or brings my way. Please forgive me for any sin I’ve committed knowingly or without knowing that hinders our relationship. Thank You for Your love, mercy and grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

Rev. Dr. Robert (Bob) Segress, Ph.D., Th.M. is the retired director of Psychological Services of Riverton General Hospital (now Highline Community Hospital) in Seattle, Washington. He has served as a college professor, interim pastor, practicing psychologist and a prison minister in California and Washington. He wrote The Biblical Approach to Psychology and Ten Years Inside Shelton Prison.

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