“Give us the bread we need for today”
Matthew 6:11 (Common English Bible)
Perhaps some of the greatest wisdom the world has ever produced was written in the ancient language of Sanskrit, “Look well to this one day, for it and it alone is life.” Those words were written approximately 4,500 years ago and they remain fresh and relevant today. Yesterday has past and, contrary to the wishes of the songwriter and performer, Cher, no one can “turn back time”. Tomorrow remains only a vision of hope. Only in the brief course of this one day do we live. The ability to love deeply, to act boldly, and to cherish beauty is available to each one of us only today. Yet, this one day, well-lived, multiplies the value of yesterday and deepens the richness of tomorrow. Look well, therefore, to this one day, for it and it alone is life.
Here And Now, a song recorded by country music singer, Kenny Chesney, has as its central theme this ancient wisdom. Chesney cautions those who put off living their lives in the present moment because there is so much other stuff to do, “Everybody’s waitin’, but they’re waitin’ on what. Better get to livin’ ‘cause all we got is here and now.” Infused with an “in-the-moment” philosophy, Chesney begins with a melancholic glance back to yesterday, “I’ve seen the skyline in New York City. Fireflies in Tennessee. Sipped a little ‘shine from a paper sack That’ll knock the horns off a Cadillac. I must’ve sat on a dozen islands. I’ve watched the sun sink into the sea.” Then there is a shift to Chesney’s favorite place, the “Here and Now.” No looking back or dreaming of another day, Chesney chooses to live in the moment.
This same wisdom is captured in Jesus’ instruction on prayer. In the Sermon on the Mountain, Jesus prays, “Give us the bread we need for today.” Jesus doesn’t strive to push the rewind button so he can redo portions of a life located in the past. Nor does Jesus allow anxieties for the future to distract from the present. Jesus looks to this present day, and this day alone. More, Jesus is confident that God will abundantly provide for the needs of this day. All that is needed is that we ask, as a child asks of a parent for what is needed. Elsewhere in scripture, Jesus values the careful planning for tomorrow. Yet, there is a difference between planning for tomorrow and becoming consumed with anxiety about tomorrow’s needs. Jesus asks that we trust this day, and each day in turn, to God.
Here And Now seems to suggest that there is no moment in the entirety of life like the present moment, “Ain’t no better place, ain’t no better time than here and now.” The truth that most of us miss is that joy, enrichment, and success – or anything we might now imagine – lies not in wait of the future, nor has anything in the past denied it to us. All of it is available in the present moment. The one thing necessary is the conviction that God is present and has a heartfelt desire for our best, “Give us the bread we need for today.” Additionally, maturity is required to discern the difference between what we “need” and what we may “want.” Chesney captures the ancient wisdom well, “Why you think we call the present the present. ‘Cause there ain’t no better gift than here and now.”