When Today Isn’t Better Than Yesterday

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As part of American culture, one of the things that’s ingrained in us from the beginning is that if we work hard enough, hope hard enough, and believe, tomorrow will be a better day.  It manifests in the various systems that make up our way of life: the school system trains kids for a brighter tomorrow. The criminal justice system rehabilitates men and women in hopes of better conduct. We work to experience more and better things for ourselves and our families. But…what happens when it doesn’t go that way?

What happens when our entire system comes crashing down because the very promise that we made to ourselves, that today would be better than yesterday, doesn’t get fulfilled? What do we do when life is dark and filled with pain. Where do we go when the kingdoms we have built for ourselves become nothing more than wreckage? When fires burn, when floods of tears can’t be held back…when today isn’t better than yesterday?

I only know one place to turn. In the midst of chaos, pain, confusion, and doubt, we turn to the one who is stronger, the one who is bigger, the one who is better. We turn to Jesus. In the person of Jesus, we find the strength to face systems and plans that do indeed crumble, that inevitably crumble. When these hard times come, we need to turn to the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30:

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Jesus’ invitation when we can’t handle things is simple. “Come to me.” Who can come to him? All of us. Anyone weary, hurt, saddened, depressed, out of sorts, or broken. All who struggle under the weight of burdens that they have both chosen and had laid upon them. And when we come to him?

Rest.
Rest we might not can give ourselves, rest that escapes us in sleepless nights, rest that lets us not be chased by the demons in our heads and hearts anymore.

Then, we take his yoke. A yoke is the instrument that guides oxen as they plow fields, to help keep them in line. Jesus says His yoke is easy, it is light. He trades our heavy burdens for His, and He desires to keep them, even when we want to take them back. Why? Because He is humble, and gentle at heart. His teachings give us the peace and comfort we need to stand strong when life falls apart.

So today, if it’s not better than yesterday, would you let Him take your burdens? Would you carry His yoke forward? Would you allow Him to help you? Would you come to Him?

That’s the only way tomorrow can be better than today.

To Whom Will We Go? (A Meditation on John 6:68-69)

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When life is full and bright and crisp.
When flowers bloom and love exists.
When warmth is found and hearts abound,
To Whom will we go?

When days are dark and filled with pain.
When eyes grow tired or filled with rage.
When another disappointment comes to stay,
To Whom will we go?

We believe. We know. You are Holy. You Are One.
It’s hard, but oh, your Word captures my soul.

When hearts ache and we don’t know why.
When the smallest things bid us cry.
When joy spills over like rolling tides,
To Whom will we go?

When choices made are second guessed
When life is wonderful in the mess
When fullness gives way to empty nests,
To Whom will we go?

We believe. We know. You are Holy.  You are One.
It’s hard, but oh, your Word captures my soul.

We cannot stop the season’s change
but we can embrace the path it brings
and hand in hand we’ll face these things
To Whom will we go?

Jesus, You are where we’ll go.
Jesus.
You are where I’ll go.

Anyway.

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This morning, I was struck by a thought. It’s funny that it had such a profound impact on me, almost stopping me in my tracks, because it’s something that I have heard time and time again, expressed in countless ways. I posted a status about it on Facebook, but it was simply a shadow of the impression that this left on me. What was that thought?

He loves me anyway.
Jesus loves me anyway.

What joy, what freedom, what relief wells up in my heart as I read those words. He loves me anyway.  Even at the depths of my deepest, darkest sin (which He knows, by the way), He still chooses to love me. The Bible says in Ephesians 3:18:

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

This is part of Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus, people who he dearly loved. I had this Scripture read over me when I was 17 years old and had just been saved, and it has stuck with me since then. And you know what? All of us, as followers of Jesus, should seek to understand God’s love. We should seek to know how wide, how long, how high, and how deep….but the further I go, the more I find!!!

At the width of my sin, spread out, covering people, places, time, and more; He is there.

At the length of my walk away from Him, no matter how far; He is there.

At the height of my selfishness, when my kingdom falls; He is there.

At the depth of the darkness within my heart, so black I feel I’ll never see light again; He is there.

Anyway.

Jesus is there. He will be there. He’s always been there. And He will be there again and again because His love never fails.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His faithful love endures forever.

~Psalm 136:1-2

I’m reminded of a song by Sidewalk Prophets, “You Love Me Anyway”. These lyrics of the song describe how I feel most accurately.

I am the thorn in your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas’ kiss
But You love me anyway
See now I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with a smile on my face
With this sin in my heart, tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still call out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life

For the times that I feel faint. For the days that I do what I don’t want to do. For the weeks where I seem to just mess everything up. Yes, even for the lifetime that’s spent away from Him.

Jesus loves us.

Anyway.