Start Today

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I’m not fond of some of the more popular and often used (overused) sayings, such as, it is what it is. Because to me, “it” doesn’t have to be what it is. It can be changed. You can be changed. It isn’t what it is. Another non favorite: Today is the first day of the rest of your life. I understand the meaning and intention of the saying. That yesterday is the past. That by the time I get to the end of this blog, what I’m typing now will be in the past. But after roughly 23,000 first days of the rest of my life, I feel some disappointment at all the things I haven’t accomplished yet… and, to be honest, a little bit tired. But if you are still here and breathing, tired or not, you still have time. All we have is today. This minute, this hour, this day of your life is all you will ever have. Make the most of it. Yesterday is gone and tomorrow may never get here.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself…” – Matthew 6:34

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. – James 4:14

It is a moment of light surrounded on all sides by darkness and oblivion. In the entire history of the universe, let alone in your own history, there has never been another just like it and there will never be another just like it again. It is the point to which all your yesterdays have been leading since the hour of your birth. It is the point from which all your tomorrows will proceed until the hour of your death. If you were aware of how precious it is, you could hardly live through it. Unless you are aware of how precious it is, you can hardly be said to be living at all. “Rejoice and be glad in it” or weep and be sad in it. The point is to see it for what it is, because it will be gone before you know it. If you waste it, it is your life that you’re wasting. If you look the other way, it may be the moment you’ve been waiting for always that you’re missing. All other days have either disappeared into darkness or not yet emerged from it. Today is the only day there is. – Frederick Buechner

So there it is. Two well known verses followed by one lesser known quote all stating the same thing. TODAY IS ALL THERE IS!! Live in it! Rejoice and be glad in it! Yes, be smart and plan for tomorrow, but in the meantime don’t forget to live today. If you’ve forgotten up to this point to really live your life… Start Today! Whatever it is, big or small. Big, if you’re ready, or start small if you need a moment to re-adjust your sails. Choose happiness, joy, laughter, compassion. Choose to write the book, change jobs, go back to school. I hear you saying, but I’ll be thirty or forty or fifty by the time I finish school, write a book, etc, etc, etc….. but God willing, whether you do those things or not, you’re going to be thirty or forty or fifty anyway. 🙂 Start today!

Choose to be the best father, mother, brother, sister, son, daughter, friend, husband, wife, etc, etc, etc you can be! Take baby steps outside your comfort zones. Renew the relationship/s… and if this wasn’t titled Start Today, start yesterday!! It is important. You are important! Your life is important! Make the phone call. Fill out the application. Take the first step. Listen for the still, small voice and follow. Every single day make the choice to follow. Plot your day and life… Be intentional. Pray, Listen, Obey and Trust = PLOT. Macmillan dictionary defines plot as a series of events that make up the main story in a book, movie, etc. But aren’t you a character in a story? Aren’t you the main character in your story? Pay attention to your story… pay attention to your life.

Pray

Don’t start your day without it. Find a quiet place to get alone with God. Even if it’s only five minutes to start.. or four, or three minutes at first, the time isn’t important. The conversation with God is. Be honest and open and truthful…because, news flash, He knows what you’re going to say anyway. Speak your heart, then..

Listen

Really listen. If you have only the previously mentioned five minutes to pray, or maybe even ten minutes, pray for half that time, then listen. Pray speak, Lord, for your servant is listening… and then listen. He will speak to you. Speaking from experience, I find I’ll spend my alone time with God praying, venting, griping for a few minutes every day before work, but don’t leave enough time to listen. I still need to let the dogs out, get my lunch together, teeth brushed, dressed for work as work prefers me to show up dressed… I get caught up in the busyness of my day to get on the road before rush hour begins. And to be honest, I think sometimes that is intentional on my part. Maybe God will tell me things I’m not ready to hear or don’t want to hear yet. Maybe God is silent, because I still haven’t acted on the last thing He told me to do. So I’m still learning to be more intentional and diligent about praying and listening and now it’s time to…

Obey

Just like listening, this is something I definitely need to work on. Don’t get me wrong.. I do obey………………eventually. The funny thing is, I know I need to obey when hearing God speak to me. Not so funny is how long it sometimes takes me to respond. For the really big, BIG things you’re hearing from God, I think it’s okay to wait a day or two and keep praying about it until you find and feel peace. The peace of God. The peace of Christ. A peace that surpasses all understanding kind of peace. Then step out in faith. Make that first small step and then another and then another. God will guide your path. It’s a promise.

“You will hear a voice behind you saying, ‘This is the way; walk in it.'” – Isaiah 30:21

In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths. – Proverbs 3:6

“And the Lord will guide you always…” – Isaiah 58:11

So pray, listen and obey, then…

Trust

Just when I think it’s going to get easier, this shows up. For as long as I’ve been a Christian or profess to be, trusting God has always been tough for me. I know He’s God. I know He is faithful and keeps His promises to us whether we are deserving or not. The deserving or not may lead to a delay as we are being guided on our journey. His will and His timing. Keep your faith because He is faithful and He is a good, good father.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. – Proverbs 3:5

Sounds easy enough when considering how often my own understanding has let me down. Hebrews 10:23 and Romans 4:20-21 are what I strive for.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we prefess, for He who promised is faithful. – Hebrews 10:23
Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. – Romans 4:20-21

Yet I swerve and I waver… I believe Lord, forgive my unbelief. I am thankful and grateful for everything God has given me and for waking up to a new day tomorrow for as many tomorrows as He allows. But for all my doubts and fears and problems that I lay at His feet, I don’t make it out of the parking lot before I’m back at His feet picking up half of what I laid down five minutes earlier. I feel a little like Noah working on the ark while staring at the desert. Or maybe like Elijah looking for a cloud after praying not just for seven times, but seven times for seven straight days… and still no cloud . Forgive my unbelief. Give everything to God. Put away your pride and ego, and come humbly before Him. He knows what He’s doing, and if you take the time to remember all He has done for you up to now, you will also remember to trust Him… with all your heart. He knows the plans He has for you. Trust Him.

#Pray #Listen #Obey #Trust

After reading back through what’s up there ^^^^, I do believe this is two, two, two blogs in one. I should try and tie them together to make one point, but I’m guessing I would probably add a third instead. The closest I can get is to say, be intentional with your life. Again… fill out the application (job/college/etc)… pick up the phone. With trembling hands dial the number and with your trembling voice, say, “Hello, I’ve been thinking of you.” And see what happens. See what God does. He is a big, BIG God that does big, BIG things… we call them miracles and He’s been doing them forever. As scared as you are to make that call, they may be just as scared that they’ll never hear your voice again. Put away your pride. Pray and listen. Obey and trust.

Going to wrap this up with another quote/paragraph from Buechner …

You are seeing everything for the last time, and everything you see is gilded with goodbyes. The child’s hand like a starfish on the pillow, your hand on the doorknob. Caught between screen and window, a wasp unfolds one wing. With a sick smile, guilt-ridden, the old dachshund lurches off the forbidden couch when you come through the door, his nose dry with sleep, and makes for the pillow by the hot-air register. It is the room where for years Christmases have happened, snow falling so thick by the window that sometimes it has started to snow in the room, brightness falling on tables, books, chairs, the gaudy tree in the corner, a family sitting there snowmen, snowbound, snowblind to the crazy passing of what they think will never pass. And today now everything will pass because it is the last day. For the last time you are seeing this rain fall and in your mind that snow, this child asleep, this cat. For the last time you are hearing this house come alive because you who are part of its life have come alive. All the unkept promises if they are ever to be kept have to be kept today. All the unspoken words if you do not speak them today will never be spoken. The people, the ones you love and the ones who bore you to death, all the life you have in you to live with them, if you do not live it with them today will never be lived.

It is the first day because it has never been before and the last day because it will never be again. Be alive if you can all through this day today of your life. What’s to be done? What’s to be done?

Follow your feet. Put on the coffee. Start the orange juice, the bacon, the toast….wake up your children and your wife. Think about the work of your hands… Live in the needs of the day. – F. Buechner

That’s it. Live in the needs of the day. Find the people you can’t live without and be with them. Put down the phones. Turn off the TV. Look into their eyes. Hug them. Talk about things that matter. Talk about nonsense. Have fun and be fun. Laugh and love and be present in all that you do.

Everything really is gilded with goodbyes. Tomorrow may not come for someone you love dearly. Tomorrow may not come for you. Make every moment count. Maybe not in a sky diving, 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fu Manchu kinda way, but make them count. Every moment is so very special. Tonight, you’re reading them Goodnight Moon before tucking them in. Tomorrow they’re off to Little League. Next week is teaching them to drive followed closely by graduation and college. You’ll shake your head and swear they smell worse coming out of the shower than before they went in.. But you’ll still miss it. You wake up one day and that tiny gray speck that was in your beard yesterday turned into a headful of white hair seemingly overnight…. or maybe even a bald head where white hair used to be. Eighteen years gone in the blink of an eye.

We are here and then we’re gone. We are a mist, a vapor, a breathe, dust.. and to dust we shall return. We have a much, much better place to go to when our time on Earth is through. Yes, as Billy Graham said, we will be more alive than we’ve ever been on that day, but in the meantime, we have life now! How about we practice some of that on Earth as it is in Heaven thing. Keep those promises. Speak the words. Live your life. Open your mind to the possibilities. Unclench your fists, open your hands and your heart. Receive all God has planned for you. It’s closer than you think. And He’s a lot closer than you think.

“…Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” – Deuteronomy 31:6
“…Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid. God will never leave you. Do everything in love… and start today. 🙂

Love is…pt. 1

 

Good Friday aka The Greatest Love of All

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. – John 15:15

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. – John 15:13

I don’t know what I can say about love that hasn’t been said in those three verses. God gave us His one and only Son so that we can have a relationship with Him. As the song goes, He is a good, good Father. A firm but fair Father…and our friend.

God desires a relationship with us…each and every one of us, sinner or saint. Even though we may sometimes qualify as saints, we are still sinners. AND HE STILL LOVES US!! He knows each and every one of us, heart and soul. The good, the bad and the sometimes ugly, AND HE STILL LOVES US!

He created each and every one of us to have a relationship with Him. There are currently over 7 billion people on earth and only He knows how many more there have been for thousands of years now and He has always desired a relationship with each and every one of us. The Webster’s definition of desire says “to long or hope for”… God longs for you and He wants all of you…again, Heart and Soul. All in and nothing less.

How many of us would offer up our sons or daughters even knowing how the story would play out? Not sure I would do it. Have you seen how we behave? Although we all have good/great moments daily, we are more prone to bouts of rudeness, impatience, meanness, spitefulness, sadness, anger, etc, etc, etc. Not exactly Fruits of the Spirit stuff and God gave His ONE AND ONLY SON for us… Sounds like love to me. Shouldn’t we all strive to love Him the same way?? After all, He laid down His life for His friends…. Us.

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment.” – Matthew 22:37-38
And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:39-40

Love is very important to God and the greatest gift He could give us, that we could give Him, and that we should do our very best to give to others. We love because He first loved us. So, if it’s that important to God, it is also important to me. Having said that, I have more trouble with the second commandment up there than the first. However, my trouble with the second prevents me from completely fulfilling the first. I can’t remember who said it, but I have read that loving your neighbor as yourself is a horrible commandment if you don’t love yourself. I don’t love myself and I know I’m not alone. I actually like my neighbor more than I like myself and he can be an a**hole at times. So what does that say about me. 🙂 I have begun to like myself though and am working on the love part. I do love God but don’t yet feel like it is with ALL my heart, mind and soul….yet. And I have found when God says all…. He means ALL!!

Exhibit A and I don’t really need a B.
Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in ALL your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6

In all your ways. With all your heart. With all your soul. With all your mind. All means ALL, y’all.

Part 2

God is Love. It says so in the Bible so it has to be true.

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. – 1 John 4:8
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. – 1 John 4:16

See?!?! Right there in writing twice in the same chapter. God is love. End of story…. but is it really? No. There is more. I haven’t even started with 1 Corinthians 13. So now I shall and all I’m going to do is replace the word love with God.

God is patient, God is kind. God does not envy, does not boast, is not proud. God does not dishonor others, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered. God keeps no record of wrongs (If you confess them). God does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. God always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. God never fails. – 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. – 1 Corinthians 13:13. And remember… God is Love.

This may be good theology or bad theology or no theology at all but it makes me feel a whole lot better about things. God loves us.  God cares.  Nothing will ever separate us from His love…other than ourselves.  He has loved us with an everlasting love; with unfailing love He draws us to Himself.  He stands at the door and knocks… Don’t you think it’s time to let Him in?  I do.

I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. – Revelation 3:20

There’s the word friends again.  He wants friendship with us.  All in.  Open your hearts and let Him in.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have God, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have God, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have God, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

There it is.  Without God and without love, we are nothing. Don’t look at me…It’s not me saying that…it says so right up there. ^^^^ I don’t want to get to the end of my life and hear “I never knew you.” I want to hear “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” That is my goal.

Now having said and shared this, what am I (or are we) to do with it? Lofty goals for humans as we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are to strive to be more like Jesus, but we will fail…daily. But I do want to be more like Christ today than I was yesterday and God willing, even a better version of myself tomorrow. So even though Good Friday wasn’t necessarily a “good” day when it was happening, it turned out to be the very best gift God could have given us……Himself.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. – James 1:17

Father in heaven, I thank you for today and every day of life. I thank you for your love and for giving your Son for me so that I shall live. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Have a great Easter, everyone. 🙂