PRINCIPLE: “Before committing to tomorrow, live today.”
We recently had several days in a row with an unusual, thick fog. Visibility was next to nil; travel was difficult. But one thing about fog is that just as quickly as it rolls in, it vanishes. It reminds me of James’ letter to the early church (4:13-17 LB): “How do you know what is going to happen tomorrow? For the length of your lives is as uncertain as the morning fog—now you see it; soon it is gone.” Our lives are like fog – here now but capable of vanishing at any moment. And no one can predict with certainty that vanishing moment.
I still recall that one morning when I was in 3rd grade – my folks kissed my 15 year old sister good-bye as she left for school, never realizing it would be the last time they would do so. Who was to know that a driver late for work wouldn’t see her crossing the street and hit her? I still remember the day when, as a freshman at Central College, I went into the campus library for the very first time, heard a shrill yell, and saw a student athlete fall – an aneurism had burst and it took his life. You have your stories and reality checks as well. Our lives are not all that secure.
While such thoughts can be viewed as morbid, they can also be viewed as healthy since it reminds us how to live each moment of each day. As Elizabeth Kubler Ross wrote, “It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth…and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up…that we will begin to live each day to the full, as if it were the only one we had.”1While in college I took Introductory Greek from a local pastor. Every week, as I left, he would say “See you next week, Lord willing.” It took me a long time to realize he wasn’t just uttering an habitual phrase nor simply acknowledging a truth we both knew; he was re-enforcing an attitude of the heart that between then and the next time we were to meet all our time belongs to God. It’s what James wrote (4:15-16 LB): “What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we shall live and do this or that.”Otherwise you will be bragging about your own plans, and such self-confidence never pleases God.”It’s an antidote that can prevent us from wasting our time and our days. As Bill Gaither put it, “Yesterday’s gone and tomorrow may never come, but we have this moment today.”2“Before committing to tomorrow, live today.”
I’ve come to realize that as soon as I say, “It can wait until tomorrow,”I need to stop and ask “Can It really?” If it’s important, it can’t. For years I’ve thought about thanking my Greek Tutor for his weekly greeting. It kept getting pushed to tomorrow. Now it’s too late; he passed away a short time ago. I live with regret. And I have sinned. James said (4:17), “Remember, too, that knowing what is right to do and then not doing it is sin.” “Before committing to tomorrow, live today.” It’s the only way to minimize living with regret for things not done or said; it’s a way to guard against sin.
“Remember the day I borrowed your brand new car and I dented it? I thought you’d kill me, but you didn’t. And remember the time I dragged you to the beach, and you said it would rain and it did? I thought you’d say, ‘I told you so,” but you didn’t. Do you remember the time I flirted with all the guys to make you jealous, and you were? I thought you’d eave me, but you didn’t. Do you remember the time I spilled strawberry pie all over your car rug? I thought you’d hit me, but you didn’t. And remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was formal and you showed up in jeans? I thought you’d drop me, but you didn’t. Yes, there were a lot of things you didn’t do. But you put up with me, and you loved me, and you protected me. There were a lot of things I wanted to make up to you when you came back from Vietnam. But you didn’t.” 3“Before committing to tomorrow, live today.
1 From Soul Unfinished, Robert Atwell, Paraclete Press, Brewster Mass., © 2012 by Robert Atwell
2 © 1975 William J. Gaither, Inc. (Admin. by Gaither Copyright Management)
3From Seizing the Moment, James Moore, Abingdon Press, 1988, pgs. 30-31