Two numbers that matter: His kingdom comes first, and one day
at a time.
All we see is numbers these days. Our TV screens and electronic devices report numerous statistics. The year 2020 was the year of infections, lockdowns, disappointments, shattered dreams, some hopeful thoughts, uncertainty, and fear.
It’s hard not to wonder what will happen next. When I asked my teenage students about their fears, they told me about their concerns for the future, their decisions in view of this uncertain future, and how these decisions would affect them. They didn’t respond to a formal survey. These were just spontaneous expressions of their worried hearts when I asked about their prayer requests for my faith notebook.
It seems that everything this year revolved around a few numbers going up or down.
In my home, numbers mattered as well. Papers holding records of temperature, oxygen saturation levels, and increased heart rate used numbers. For me, the pandemic hit close—so close it hit home.
Newspapers reported the inflation rate in red numbers. Debts taken on by a large part of the world population were also reflected in red numbers in their household accounts.
Can we really understand something based on these numbers? Can we actually plan on what will happen next? Should we just hope for the best?
The Bible I’ve had since I turned 9 has the words of Jesus printed in red. In Sabbath School, when I was still a child, I underlined verses 33 and 34 of Matthew 6 in red since I had to memorize them: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
That looks like an answer to me. Two answers, actually. Two numbers that matter: His kingdom comes first, and one day at a time.
I remember going to an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting with a friend, listening as everyone repeated their motto: “One day at a time.”
I remember singing songs about these two numbers in church.
These are concepts long instilled, yet sometimes a little forgotten.
It doesn’t matter how many followers we have on our social media channels or how well we have used them to share the gospel with others online. It also doesn’t matter how many publications have been downloaded or how many people joined an evangelistic livestream. At the end of the day and at the end of the year we are accountable for how we personally responded to these two numbers—His kingdom first and one day at a time.
We are thankful for mission advances and continue to do our best to reach as many as possible with the gospel. We have seen miracles in the midst of dire circumstances.
But we don’t have all the answers, and we will have to continue making adjustments along the way. In these moments it’s good to know that we can connect to our heavenly Father daily, that we can trust Him and hang on to Him in the midst of uncertainty—in spite of all the red numbers. After all, He painted the assurance of His promise in crimson red on the cross. The fulfillment of His promises is what happens next.