What does a 16 year old girl do when her parents take her to hang out with family friends in a cabin without cell service or wi-fi? With no other teenage girls? It probably depends on the girl, but if it is Lisa, she joins right in, playing cards and board games, playing in the snow, and even participating in laser gun wars. But when she finds out her dad is heading to town on an errand, she gives him her phone to take with him and asks him to “do her streaks.” Being the mother of teenagers, I am familiar with streaks. If you aren’t, here’s an old-lady explanation: as best I can figure, streaks are records for keeping in contact through social media. You send and receive a message of some kind every day and watch to see how long you can go without missing. One of my boys had a 200+ long streak. The messages don’t have to be long or even interesting. Sometimes they might just be a scribbled “S,” (which stands for “streak” if you were wondering). The important thing is to keep on sending and receiving them.
It is a new year. Many of us have been thinking about the things we want to do better in 2020. One of the biggest difficulties with healthy habits is keeping them going, being consistent. Have you ever tried to do something every day? It is a challenge.
I have been thinking about that concept of “daily.” The prayer Jesus taught to His disciples includes a request that God give us “our daily bread.”
“Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. …” Luke 11:2-4
I have heard those words way more times than I can count, but it wasn’t until I was listening to one of Pastor David’s sermons last year that I made the connection between “daily bread” and the manna that God provided for the Israelites.
Remember, when they were traveling around in the desert, a place where finding food could be challenging, God provided this mysterious food substance every day, “daily bread”. “The manna was like coriander seed and looked like resin. The people went around gathering it, and then ground it in a hand mill or crushed it in a mortar. They cooked it in a pot or made it into loaves. And it tasted like something made with olive oil. When the dew settled on the camp at night, the manna also came down.” Numbers 11:7-9 It was miraculous. It was nourishing. It was daily. After a while though, the Israelites got tired of the daily manna. You might say it became more of a daily grind than a daily miracle. They wanted something else, and they complained. Numbers 11 tells us about this. Let me summarize by saying that they got what they wanted, but it didn’t really turn out to be a good thing.
I see some parallels to our lives. Jesus said we should ask for “daily bread.” He also said that “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4: 4). He compared himself to the manna that God provided for the Israelites. “Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’” (John 6:32-33).
Jesus is the bread of life, the Word of God. He is what we need to live and be nourished. Connecting to Jesus is like manna. It is miraculous. It is nourishing. It can be daily. Jumping back to the Lord’s prayer, it seems like maybe it should be daily. “Give us this day our daily bread.”
How often do we forget how truly amazing the opportunity to spend time with Jesus is? How often does it become more of a daily grind than a daily miracle? Guess what? That’s human nature. I love something C.S. Lewis said about starting with duty and changing to desire. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the actual quote, but his point was that the exercise of a healthy spiritual habit leads to a changed heart, a heart that delights in the habit as an act of love for God. I have struggled over the years with whether daily devotional time should be on my “to do list.” I don’t want it to be a motion that I go through, devoid of meaning. On the other hand, it is important to me to consistently spend time with Jesus, and if it isn’t planned, there is a lot lower likelihood that it will happen.
The streaks idea struck me-I am just keeping my streaks with Jesus! Part of it is the consistency and the daily, but underneath is the desire for connection. I am building a foundation for that all-the-time togetherness that I have referenced before, like Brother Lawrence the 3rd century monk whose writings inspired Practicing the Presence of God.”
My challenge to you is to get into the habit of daily connection with Jesus, even if it is brief. Use a short devotional, sit for 5 minutes of prayer, read a Bible passage, dedicate your morning commute-you choose what seems like it will work best. (The YouVersion Bible app will even count streaks for you!) And don’t give up if you lose your streak. It’s OK to start over. Remember the verse from Lamentations?
“Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23
That’s the awesome thing about God-He never loses His streaks. He is always connecting.
Happy New Year!
God, thank You for the amazing opportunity to connect with You. Thanks that You have promised that when we seek You, we will find You. When we call, You always hear and answer. You are what keeps us going; You are our daily bread. Please give us the desire to meet You every day. Help us to be intentional about setting aside time for You. Speak to us and enlighten us. Change us. Make us like Jesus. Thank You for Your consistency, that You never forget or get too busy to be with us. We pray in the name of Jesus today and every day. Amen.