Live One Day at a Time
by Randal S. Chase
So many of us spend out days fretting over the past and/or the future. And both of these things are a waste of time. The Lord said, “Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof” (Matthew 6:34). In other words, we have enough challenges today to deal with, without adding to them the challenges of the past or the future. We should take it, “one day at a time.”
As I have pondered this theme, I have been reminded of a teaching shared on the weekly broadcast of the Tabernacle Choir by J. Spencer Kinnard on March 21, 1982. He entitled it “Live for Today.”
“Those who have some clue that they are approaching death – the aged, the terminally ill – seem to gain an insight into the meaning of life. Their conclusion is universal. Live life to the fullest; live life as if each day were the last, as well it may be.
“This is a motto to measure life not by its length but by its depth.
“To live is not merely to breathe, it is to experience, to make use of our senses, our capacity to feel. To be alive merely to acquire material possessions or fame, or to experience only sensual pleasure, is to trade that which is worthless. Too soon life is gone. Even as we speak, a portion of it has fled. Regardless of its length, it is short. The man who dies at 100 and he who dies at 20 lose one and the same thing: the opportunity to live for today.
“‘Had I the chance to live life over,’ wrote Michael Robinson, ‘I would do things somewhat differently. I would understand at the beginning that much of our life is spent in vain pursuits. If I could do it again, I would hate less and live more, work less overtime and spend more time with my family, argue less and listen more, collect fewer debts and more friends.
“‘If God granted me a second chance, I would grow closer to living things – to petunias, to aspen trees, to kittens, to my children. Bedtime stories would be as important as news stories; valentines and birthdays would be as honored as paydays. I would never go to bed without saying to someone, ‘I love you,’ or without experiencing the beauty of a song, a poem, or a painting.
“‘And finally, each morning as I arose I would repeat these words: The past is gone and tomorrow may never come . . . I will live for today.’ (Robinson, Michael L., The Existential Voyage, ‘Live For Today’).”
How pointless it is to re-live past mistakes or even past triumphs! We cannot change them by doing so. We can only move forward, forgetting past bruises and gripes or even victories, and focusing on the here and now. Today is the day when we can lift someone up, love our children, worship the Lord, or build constructive things through our labors. We cannot re-do the past. And we cannot live future days in advance.
This principle is not only one that promotes good mental health and happiness. It is also at the heart of the principle of repentance. The past absolutely does not matter in the eternal scheme of things. If we have sinned, we can repent and make it as though we had never made the mistake in the first place. And if we have kept the commandments and triumphed in the past, all of it will be to no avail if we turn away from the path of duty in later days. The Lord is more interested in who we are than who we have been. It is our status today that will judge us if our lives were to end without warning. Neither what has been, nor what might have been if we had been permitted to tarry, will matter at the bar of judgment. Let us “live one day at a time” and do our best to make the best of every minute of our present lives. I know, if we will do this, that we will be happy and will realize every blessing that we have every hoped for, in the end.
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