How often do you feel discouraged about things that happened in the past, and even the mistakes you have made? If only we could go back to those yesterdays and start all over again, and maybe we wouldn’t make the same mistakes.
Many people have a yearning for new beginnings, and we see that particularly at the beginning of each year when some people make new promises. I believe Louisa Fletcher Tarkington expressed the longings of many when she wrote:
I wish there were some wonderful place
Called the Land of Beginning Again,
Where all our mistakes, and all our heartaches,
And all our poor selfish griefs
Could be cast like a shabby old coat at the door
And never be put on again.
There is a sense of loss for some of us as we contemplate life, and the lost days. Days that come and go, and we wonder what we have actually achieved.
While we cannot know what the future holds, we do know this: it will largely be what you and I and God make of it. A long time ago Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed a sentiment that is really good. He said, “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.” Despite the failures and mistakes of the past we can make it happen, with God’s help. What can we do to make every day the best day for us? Is it really possible to do that? How can we make each day the best day?
Life Is Not a Dress Rehearsal
We should live one day at a time. Stan Getz, the outstanding jazz saxophonist, had a life-threatening bout with cancer. In a radio interview several years later he was asked, “What did you learn from this illness?” He replied, “I learned that life is not a dress rehearsal.” Marcus Aurelius, the great Roman emperor/philosopher wrote, “To live each day as though it was one’s last, never flustered, never apathetic, never attitudinizing — here is the perfection of character.”
There is no second chance at life. The only moment any of us ever has is the present moment. Time can’t be saved, only savoured. The Psalmist must have had this in mind when he wrote in Psalm 118:24 (CEV), “This day belongs to the Lord. Let’s celebrate and be glad today”. What a wonderfully inspiring statement. How different today would be if we really believed it. Some people live their lives in the past, weighed down over the mistakes and failures of yesterday. Others live on an expectancy basis, always looking for something better in the future.
I think that living one day at a time means keeping yourself responsive to simple things. For most of us, there are not big moments—only a pile of small ones. Most of us miss life’s big prizes: the Pulitzer, the Nobel, Oscars, Tonys. Emmys. But we’re all eligible for life’s small pleasures. A pat on the back. A kiss. A full moon. An empty parking space. A crackling fire. A great meal. A glorious sunset. If our happiness or unhappiness is based on some major event like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a perfect marriage or a trip to Paris, we will not be happy much of the time.
Enjoying the Simple Things in Life
If, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the front yard, children who love you, a brisk walk or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness. So we must not fret about copping life’s grand awards. We have to enjoy its tiny delights. They are always near at hand and there are plenty for all of us. The motto of our life, therefore, ought to be: Learn from yesterday, hope for tomorrow, but live today.
An old version of Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Are you making every day count for something? Are you really living life to the fullest? Do you see each day as a special gift from God—packed with fresh, new possibilities, with unique opportunities? Or is life passing you by?
Sadly, many people today are unhappy and unfulfilled in the present moment. They are so caught up in looking to another day, that they miss the joy and meaning of this day. To some, the good days are way back there in the past. Others long for better days off in the future. Still others are frustrated and depleted by the pressure-packed ‘busy-ness’ of hectic modern-day living.
How is it with you today? Are you really living, or is life passing you by? There is a better solution. Walk outside, feel the sunshine, breathe in the fresh air, touch the grass, look into the faces of little children, take in the miracles of God’s creation and remember that the One who put this amazing, miraculous world in place loves you unconditionally.
(Read Today is God’s Gift to You – Part 2)