Faith is an essential part of life.
You might say that it begins when the phone alarm buzzes early in the morning – assuming that it does chime at the appointed time. We have faith in the engineers at Apple or Samsung or Motorola that the software they developed will operate correctly and notify us that the day is beginning. There’s also faith that the light will illuminate a room when the switch is flipped. Finally, there’s faith (and maybe a few prayers) that a temperamental car engine will turn over when the key is inserted into the ignition and rotated forward.
Indeed, faith is in the ordinary. But when faith is exercised in a most extraordinary way, we can’t help but step back and marvel at how the Creator can reveal his faithfulness to us in all things.
“Day by Day,” the 1995 hit song by DC Talk, provides a handy reminder of God’s faithfulness. We are indeed a forward-looking people, prone to thinking about what’s next, but Jesus tells us to focus on today. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself” (Matthew 6:34). Like phone alarms, light switches, and car keys, faith dwells in the here and now. “Day by Day” shows us how to reflect on the now, on this day, by way of three recurring prayers in the chorus.
Like phone alarms, light switches, and car keys, faith dwells in the here and now.
1. To see thee more clearly.
Faith in God grows day by day when we see him clearly for who he is and what he does. The psalmist suggests intentional time in the Bible as a starting point for growing your faith. “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18). With the Spirit of God indwelling us (1 Corinthians 6:19), God will reveal fresh truths from verses that have been repeatedly read. For instance, how many times have you read Psalm 23 and discovered new mercies, new grace, new hope, new truth, new, forgiveness, new wonder?
“To see thee more clearly” denotes a process. In other words, knowing God more requires effort on our part. He joyfully calls us towards him, though. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13). Finding God, however, must be accompanied by faith, as the author of Hebrews makes clear. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
The apostle Paul alludes to a day in the future when our collective striving to see God more clearly will give way to a perfect, unambiguous clarity. “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (I Corinthians 13:12). Or as pastor Matthew Henry puts it, “Hope fastens on future happiness, and waits for that; but in heaven, faith will be swallowed up in actual sight, and hope in enjoyment. There we shall perfectly love God.” We will see God perfectly clearly one day for who he is.
2. To love thee more dearly.
How do we love God more? Dr. John Piper summarizes the best way. “The chief end of man [or woman] is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever” (brackets mine). Glorifying God is the response to his unending love. We can glorify God through song, through the arts, through volunteerism at a church or in the community, through parenting, through serving a boyfriend or girlfriend well, or even in a simple prayer.
Glorifying God is the response to his unending love.
Consider Proverbs 8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Jesus affirmed this Old Testament truth during his ministry: “Seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7). We will also realize what it means to love God more dearly by loving those around us – those we like and those we dislike. We are commanded to love others because Jesus loved us first (see John 13:34 and 1 John 4:19).
3. To follow thee more nearly.
The prophet Micah provides guidance on following God. “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). The ancient king David spoke of staying close to God in the low valleys. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me” (Psalm 23:4). With time, following God more nearly will result in dark valleys giving way to green pastures – and liberation. As the psalmist puts it, “I will walk about in freedom” (Psalm 119:45). Immanuel – God with us – is a constant.
To see God more clearly. To love God more dearly. To follow God more nearly. This is the aim of those who chase after Jesus. What’s the recurring theme among these three prayers? What underscores their focus? More. More clarity. More love. More strength for the walk ahead. Psalm 71 says as much. “As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more” (v. 14). Like Dr. Piper noted earlier, pursuing God more translates into enjoying him more, finding fullness of spirit in him. No other pursuit will satisfy, for the hope and purpose of life is found in God alone.
Day by day.