Thursday, December 8, 2016

“The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next.” ― Mignon McLaughlin

Twelve-Step Programs like Alcoholics Anonymous are known for using the phrase “one day at a time.”  It’s nothing really new with them, but so many of us are always planning far down the road for ourselves, our spouses, our children, our work, and our churches that we frequently forget that all God ever gives us is “one day at a time.”  Jesus talked about it more than once, most famously in Matthew 6:25-34, in what I call the “consider the lilies” discourse.  No matter how much we want to live tomorrow today, we just can’t.  I have to put together seven days with no problems so the doctors will be happy, but after just two days, there were problems, so I am starting over—one day at a time.  Of course we have to plan, we have to save, we have to prepare for things that are coming, but we can’t live any more than one day at a time no matter how frustrating that can be.  Alcoholics, and I know several who have been sober for over twenty years or more, still only focus on one day at a time because it only takes one day to fall off the wagon.  We can spend years building our reputations of integrity, honesty, decency, and righteousness, but it only takes a moment to tear it all down, irreparably.  There are examples aplenty, like Lance Armstrong, Bill Cosby, and many others whom we admired and held in high repute only to see their feet of clay bring them down permanently.  My problem-free seven days is beyond my control, but how I live each of those seven days is completely within my control.  Every day I must love others as myself, I must prove to be a neighbor to those I do not know, I must let kindness and peace rule my heart, and when I slip (as I frequently do), I must turn to another of those “twelve-step” devices and make amends wherever I can.  I must ask forgiveness of those I hurt and of God—and during the last thirty years or so, I have done just that.  It was not always so, but it is part of who I am now, how God has shaped and formed me since I became the clay in His potter’s hand.  Do this today, practice kindness, be slow to anger, quick to love, and look for the best in all those around you.  You only get today to do this.  Reread Matthew 6: 25-34 and pay attention.  Read it aloud.  Read it to those you love.  Agree to practice it together.  I so dearly want to get my seven days without a problem but I can only do one day at a time no matter how badly I want it otherwise.  Back when I was younger and climbed mountains, I did what was called the “rest step” when at higher altitudes that sapped your strength.  You just took one step, rested a second, and then took the next one.  It seemed that I was making no progress at all, yet it was the only way I could reach the summit—and reach the summit I did.  Do the same with every day, just do that day, rest a bit, and then do the next.  It will take you to the top of Jacob’s ladder, to the very heights of heaven itself—one day at a time.  It works and Christ knew it and implored you to do it.  I’m going to do it today.  Join me.

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