Back in the sixties and seventies, a very popular saying and philosophy was “Carpe Diem!” which is Latin for “seize the day.” Back then it was a way of saying “live for today” because who knows what will be coming tomorrow. There was a whole school of poetry based around it to rationalize doing dangerous and daring things, especially involving sex. The whole thrust of the thing was that if you died suddenly, you would never have had the exciting and thrilling adventures you would have if you would just “Seize the Day.” They stole this from Christ who had a completely different meaning in mind when He said, “Consider the lilies . . .” Christ was urging us to love others now and not wait until we were comfortably well off. He was also urging us not to worry about the future but to put our trust in God—and we should.
Consider that 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, nor can we relive yesterday. After my last bout with this stomach infection, I have to put together seven days with no problems so the doctor will be happy, but after just two days, there were problems, so I am starting over—one day at a time—which is what I should have done from the start. 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, Kevin Spacey, and many politicians and 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 single day I must love others as myself (just like Karen did—God, I miss her), 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. Re-read 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 in winter, I did what was called the “rest step” when at the higher altitudes that sapped your strength. You just took one step, crunching the snow, 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 without Karen, so I'll be doing it alone unless you join me. Please do.