Friday, May 15, 2015

What do you mean the "Our Father" is dangerous? -- part 6

Letter to Dan J. Russ continued...

(“Give us this day our daily bread” part 2) 

So now that you can stop worrying about what epiousion really means, I will go on to explain the concept. Psalm 119 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.”  Whenever I hear that, I think of those ridiculous lights that one sometimes finds on upright floor vacuums. They light up the floor for a distance of about an inch and a half. They are close to useless.

I don’t want “a lamp unto my feet.” I want a high-power coal miner’s helmet lamp that will make the cave as bright as daylight for about a mile down. We don’t get that kind of lamp. We get enough light for about one step. We walk by faith, not by sight. In the same way, we ask for daily bread. I don’t want daily bread. I want a really good diversified stock portfolio that will guarantee I won’t ever have to work a day in my life. I’d also like some gold bars and Krugerands to stash under my bed just in case. 
Heaven doesn’t work that way. We get one day at a time. “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice in it and be glad.”  And, “If today you hear His voice harden, not you hearts.” 

All we are guaranteed is today and, surprise, if we wake up tomorrow, it will  still be today again. The devil wants to get us living any other time but the present. C.S. Lewis puts it brilliantly in the 6th and 15th chapters of The Screwtape Letters.  If you have never heard of the book, it purports to be a correspondence between two demons on how to get their man safely into hell. Here are the sections pertinent to the idea of wanting no more than daily bread: 
Chapter 6 - We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He (God) wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.
Chapter 15 - Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind. Our choice between them raises important questions. The humans live in time but our Enemy (God) destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. …In it alone freedom and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present - either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent, resembles eternity . . . It is far better to make them live in the Future… It is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time - for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays….Nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. Do not think lust an exception. When the present pleasure arrives, the sin (which alone interests us devils) is already over. …To be sure, the Enemy wants men to think of the Future too - just so much as is necessary for now planning the acts of justice or charity which will probably be their duty tomorrow. …His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future - haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth… We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the Present.
 The devil wants us to live at any time but the present. A glorious future when the revolution comes. Or when I win the lottery or when I am retired is no different in the devil’s scheme of things than a horrible future full of sorrow and worry and sickness. “What will I do when I am old? What if something bad happens to those I love? What if I get sick? What if, what if, what if….”  The future doesn’t exist. There is no such thing as the future. It is unwritten. We are writing it now, and when it appears, it will be the present.  

To God all times are now and all places are here. When we say, “give us this day our daily bread” we ask to be good and kind and obedient to Him today. We are asking for the grace and the material necessities that today will require. We do our best today and trust the future to a Father who loves us. If the devil can get us to live reminiscing about the good old days, when things were better, or better still, worrying about or at least anticipating the future, we will never notice today. We will never see that there are people around us who love us or need our love; we will never notice the things that would give us joy or make us laugh. We will never notice the sunlight, the green grass, the good food, the dear friends and family. We will never actually live, and when we come to leave this world we will wonder where it all went.

The truth is that it never went anywhere it was and is right here and we have neglected to live the life that God gave us. In everyday there are sorrows that can lift our hearts to God, and there are blessings for which we can thank Him despite the difficulties that we encounter today. Few dreaded sorrows in life measure up to the bleak picture we can paint in our imaginations and few pleasures measure up to their anticipation. This moment, this daily bread is the gift. It is wonderful enough if we stop to notice.
This is the day the Lord has made. Give us this day our daily bread. We leave tomorrow’s feast in your hands, O Lord.

Rev. Know-it-all

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