There is a phrase that appears twice in Acts 2:46&47: “day by day”. The first time it says, “Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. That is followed up in the next sentence with: “And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.”
This is a picture of life in the early church. It gives us some insight into what the disciples of Jesus did in the days after Pentecost. It’s always been an inviting picture to me, as the church sort of found its way together and enjoyed the blessings of God’s work in their midst. It’s the text I’ve invited our congregation to pray through this week as we continue a prayer focus related to a revitalization initiative we are sharing.
I’ve never been very good at living “day by day”, have you? I like to plan and look ahead – sometimes far ahead. It’s not uncommon for me to be thinking about what needs to happen in six months. Some times I’m looking out more than a year. It’s sort of a consequence of my work. Ministry will kick you in the seat of the pants if you don’t plan ahead and are always working by the seat of your pants!
But lately I’ve been working on the “day by day” stuff. Trying to live more in the present and enjoy the moment and not wish life away. You see the trouble with being a planner is that you sometimes don’t enjoy the day you are in because you are too concerned about a day to come.
When I take a long bike ride I usually have something of a plan in mind. If it’s a new route, I’ve definitely scoped it out to learn the turns, road names or numbers and anticipate what I might encounter in the way of traffic, road conditions, and so forth. But if I’ve ridden the route before I usually just kind of let it happen and may even vary the route as I go. Those are fun rides and almost always contain a surprise or two. When you learn to pay attention to the day (ride) you are in (on) you see new things.
There are some days from the past that stand out clearly. They were days I made a concerted effort to enjoy and be present in. Our wedding day was one of those. The days that our three children were born – it helped that they were all scheduled C-section deliveries! Our daughter’s wedding day – I really wanted to enjoy that day, and I did.
But it shouldn’t take a “special” day to live day by day. We ought to be able to stop ourselves and capture a moment, or experience when it settles upon us. That’s the work I’m trying to be a bit more intentional about. When I do, capture the moment that is, I am most generally awash with feelings of thanksgiving. I can appreciate that this moment in time is a gift, this experience something to be treasured. It will not come again – whatever it is. And when we are attentive enough to hear the whisper of God in our ear about that moment, we would do well to stop – to pause and give thanks.
Getting back to the passage from Acts 2, it says in the last verse that the Lord added to their number (daily) those who were being saved. What a fitting summary. When we dare to live day by day, we become aware, do we not, that it is not all of our effort and planning that accomplishes the things in life that truly matter. No, it’s the Lord who adds – to the moment, to the day, to the experience, to the church. Thanks be to God.