Sunday, December 18, 2016

Yesterday's Bread

Life can be dry sometimes, admit it. Sometimes we let our passion die down to embers. All that's left is dust and ashes and maybe a barely-surviving coal or two, and so we trudge onwards in the dark, wishing for brighter times.


Sometimes that doesn't just describe our life, but our relationship with God.


I've been there more times than I care to admit. I've heard all the trite phrases about being sold out, on fire, all in. Those are nice when you're feeling sold out, on fire, and all in. Not so much when the emotions wave goodbye, and you feel neutral or depressed or angry or tired or scared.


Maybe you've heard this one too: passion isn't an emotion, it's a choice. It's an oft-used phrase, at least in my circles, and though it may be clich├ęd, it's absolutely true. You can have passionate emotions (there's nothing wrong with that--I love feeling passionate about something) but if that's as deep as the passion runs, it doesn't take much to send it crashing down.


Passion is a choice.


And sometimes you'll have to fight against every ounce of your current feelings to make that choice. Sometimes you don't feel terribly enthusiastic about someone or something, but you choose to value them anyway. You choose to put energy into building that relationship or pursuing that project. The awesome thing about making that choice, is that if you keep making it and keep making it and keep making it . . . the feelings of passion will often follow.

Revelation 3:16 in The Message version says, "You're not cold, you're not hot--far better to be cold or hot! You're stale. You're stagnant. You make me want to vomit."

When I'm stale and stagnant, I usually want to vomit, too. Being stagnant sucks. No growth, no movement, no passion--it makes me feel gross. I find in those times, I look back longingly at seasons in my life when I was passionate. I wish I could extract the feeling of blazing enthusiasm out of the past and inject it into my present. I wish I could return to those times.

Perhaps you've been there too, or maybe you're there right now, longing for that old spark.

Guess what? It doesn't work that way.

And that's okay.

You probably know the story of Exodus--in one of the most epic exits in all of history, Moses leads his people out of slavery in Egypt and heads for the Promised Land. But in chapter 16, we find the Israelites struggling through the wilderness with nothing to eat. It is then that God provides manna, bread from heaven that covered the ground of their encampment each morning. But He instructs them to gather only what they need for today, to keep nothing for the next day.

If I were in their situation, in the middle of a desert where food is scarce, and I saw the ground blanketed in bread, I would probably want to save a few extra snacks for the road. Who knows when food will be available again, right? Obviously some of the Israelites thought the same, because a few of them kept extra manna. And overnight, it became wormy, smelly, rancid. Completely inedible.

I find that's a striking picture of what happens with us. You might have had a mountaintop experience, a spiritual high, a time when you felt deeply connected to God. I've experienced that, and if you have as well, that's amazing. But when life gets hard or boring, and those feelings aren't there anymore, you wish you could somehow go back to that. Yet you can't.

You can't feed on yesterday's bread.

[source]

You can't expect to be nourished by the time you had with God last year, last week, or even yesterday. That food, so to speak, was for that day. It's like if I eat a five course meal on Monday and think that I won't need to eat for another week. I'm going to be hungry on Tuesday, no matter how much I ate on Monday. The same is true for our spiritual lives.

I used to think that was depressing, until I realized I don't even need yesterday's bread. There's a feast spread before me today. Day after day after day, it's like God scatters fresh manna across the ground, there for the taking.

Every day I can choose to gather fresh inspiration and nourishment for my heart. Every day I can choose passion. I can choose to dig in, to be enthusiastic, and to make another connection with my Father.

Do I make that choice every day? Nope. Some days I huddle in my tent, nibbling on rotten bread. Some days I see the manna covering the ground like snow, and I don't lift a finger to fill my jar. But those choices, too, belong to yesterday.

Today really is a new day. I challenge myself, and I challenge you: gather fresh bread.

27 comments :

  1. Tracey, your posts are always so wonderful, and make me strive to be a better person. Just as I started to read this, I'd been thinking about how lacking, how dried out I've felt as of late. Thank you so much for this wonderful reminder that holding a passion and love for God is a choice!! <3

    ~Liv
    oliviakfisher.blogspot.com

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    1. Really? THAT MAKES MY DAY, LIV. <333 I'm sorry to hear you've been feeling dried out lately, but I'm confident that things will start looking up again for you!

      P.S. I will respond to that Goodreads message ASAIHT (as soon as I have time)! :D

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  2. Oh, girl, how your posts inspire me and challenge me! I absolutely love this illustration of yesterday's bread. Honestly, I don't know if I've ever thought about it in this way--how our source should be today's bread, and yesterday's is behind us. We can't keep dwindling on the past, otherwise our lives become like rancid bread. What a powerful thought!

    Oswald Chambers talks a lot about how we can't live on the mountaintops. Those moments are rare. The majority of our lives are trudging through the valley, living through the mundane. And it's our choice if to groan and complain or shine light and, as you said, gather fresh enthusiasm. And I struggle a LOT with the mundane. A whole, whole lot. I get tired, lose my enthusiasm, wish for those "mountaintop moments". But, as you so eloquently put it, I have to pick myself up and gather fresh bread. Drink from the endless wellspring of God.

    Thank you, Tracey! These were words I needed to hear. I agree with Olivia, your posts always make me strive to be better! They are so very thought provoking.

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    1. I read a very similar illustration in a book somewhere (though I forget which one), and it STUCK with me. I love how you rephrased it, by the way--how yesterdays' bread is behind us, and our lives become like rancid bread if we dwell on the past. <3

      That quote sounds familiar. It's true, life isn't one big mountaintop. But girl, don't we all struggle with the mundane? I know I do, at least! In some ways, there are routines I love, but in general, I get bored. Tired. Weary in well-doing. Thank goodness for that endless wellspring!

      I'm so happy (that doesn't seem like the right word... pleased? grateful? honored?) to hear that. Thank you so very much! ^____^

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  3. Thank you for this, Tracey. Your posts are always so encouraging. I wish I could write like you :)

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    1. Thank you so much, Florid Sword! <3 But now I have to quote Lucy in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie: "You should be just like you." ;)

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  4. Beautiful! Thank you for posting!

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    1. Thanks, Blue! From the sounds of some of your posts, you're good at this bread-gathering thing...finding fresh enjoyment in the little things. ;)

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  5. Your post are always so encouraging and faith building which is a hard thing to find.

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    1. Goodness, Skye, I'm honored to hear that! Thank you! <333

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  6. This is a really good post. I needed this in my life right now.

    storitorigrace.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks, Tori! You and me both, to be honest. :)

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  7. While I was reading this I just had to close my eyes for a second and think, "What even...?!"
    THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME THIS YEAR.
    I remember writing in my journal how I felt on fire for God last summer, like I was willing to abandon everything for Him. But I feel like this year, Satan is fighting hard to turn that all around. I've felt self-centered, self-conscious, less fervent about my burden for the lost. And speaking of that, what you said about passion being a choice? I have never thought about that concept before--what a great point!
    This post was one of THE MOST relevant-to-my-life posts I have ever read! It's not very often that I read a post and go, "This is NUTS" in a good way. ;) This post made me do that.
    I have longed for the old spark.
    I've felt gross when the passion was lacking.
    I've had a mountain top experience with hard times following.
    So relevant and helpful...thank you SO much, Tracey.
    -Ariel

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    1. ARE YOU KIDDING ME. OH WOW. That just...blows me away! To think that this little post was that relevant? o.o God amazes me every time something like this happens.

      I so understand what it feels like to go from zeal to apathy in a short period of time. It's not a fun slope to slide down. But thankfully, each day is a new opportunity to turn it around! And I think it's important that we learn to not only follow God when we feel that fire within, but also when every step forward is done out of obedience. Keep pressing on, Ariel! There are new mountains to climb. <3

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  8. Woah. This is really good. I never thought about the manna that way! (Isn't it amazing how many layers of incredible meaning are in every Bible story??)

    Thanks so much for this!

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    1. Oh, I agree! It's the best thing to be reading a verse or passage in the Bible that you've been over countless times, and then to discover a new layer to it. :D Thank you, Lucy!

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  9. This is a really good reminder for me, especially since I'm feeling pretty burned out from school and exams right now. And I liked your metaphor with the manna! I'd never heard that one before, which is always refreshing.
    The idea of passion being a choice is interesting, because everyone goes through dry spells and rough patches where it seems like all the passion is gone, and finding a way to come out of those times still passionate about the important things is key. I think having mountain top experiences to look back on and remind yourself that things haven't been and won't always be this way is essential. But as you say, it's also important to remember that God has given us this day, right now, too.

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    1. Ugh, exams. :P I can imagine that period of the school year would be draining. Yay for new metaphors! ^_^

      I find it encouraging to remember that I'm not the only one who goes through dry spells. None of us are alone. And yes, absolutely, those awesome experiences are also an encouragement if we look at them the right way! Not trying to get back to that specific time, but seeing it as a reminder that "things haven't been and won't always be this way," as you said. Love that! <3

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  10. Awesome post, Tracey, as always! XD
    I've been feeling pretty dry too. So thanks for the encouragement!

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    1. And YOU'RE awesome, as always! ;D

      I'm so glad it uplifted you! *hugs*

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  11. What a beautiful reminder. Passion is a choice. A daily choice. I love the images you used to portray this. It can be so easy to think that what I gathered yesterday will continue to fortify me today and tomorrow... but it needs to be a daily task. And it can be hard to remember as we're trodging through the wilderness (that's my new word I'm trying to get to catch on, it's a combination of "trudging" and "plodding") that there ever was a mountaintop or ever will be again... or an oasis... or a green pasture.

    Thanks for the reminder!

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    1. Thank you, Jenelle! Trodging is now the newest addition to my vocabulary. ;)

      I'm so grateful for the people in my life (physically and online) with whom we can spur each other on towards making that choice to be passionate. Because you're right, we do need reminders. Often. Reminders that those mountaintops, oases, and green pastures DO exist, and we WILL find them again. ^_^

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  12. You've hit the nail on the head, I think. It's a difficult task, maintaining passion where it needs to be and being patient where passion should/can not be forced. The trickiest part, I think, is determining, on occasions when we have an impulse to branch out into something new, whether that impulse is truly from God or not. As far as I can tell, the only way to help that is through your relationship with Him and through study of His Word.

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    1. Very, very true. I never thought about patience balancing out passion like that before! And yes, getting to know God and His Word better is so key when it comes to making decisions. When it comes to anything, really.

      Merry Christmas! :)

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  13. Hi Tracey! Thank you so much for sharing this beautiful post! It was very relevant for things that I am currently dealing with and I felt very encouraged!

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    1. Thank YOU, Allison! It always makes my day when I hear people find these things relevant/encouraging. *hugs*

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