My active imagination rarely offers me peace in its untamed and unrestrained state. Without intentional gospel focus and intense mental discipline, it takes me down paths with more potholes than the streets of Detroit. And unlike the city potholes, I can't just drive crazy fast and fly over them. It takes a mental workout of grace, and one of the exercises involves pushing back against the strong temptation to rehearse pain of the past and entertain fear of the future. It's needful resistance training for spiritual muscle, and it's why we find Christ continually warning his disciples not to carry needless burdens that distract, disquiet, and discourage.
In one particularly poignant counseling session, Jesus lovingly takes aim at their doubting hearts by reassuring them of the Father's faithful protection and provision that even includes the faithful care of the sparrow. After admonishing them to make their first priority the seeking of God and His Kingdom, He ends His encouragement with these words: "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matt 6:34)
This counsel that Christ gave to his disciples found lodging in the heart of John Newton, and he offers us this helpful illustration:
"I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole bundle at once. He mercifully unties the bundle, and gives us first one stick which we are to carry today, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow. We can easily manage our troubles, if we would only carry the trouble appointed for each day. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday's burden today, and then add the burden of tomorrow."