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Today. My Favorite Day

During the Korean War in December 1950, the Chinese counteroffensive had trapped much of the Marine First Division near Chosin Reservoir in the mountains of North Korea. The Chinese outnumbered the Americans by several to one and had the Americans surrounded. But the cold became a greater enemy than the Chinese. The temperature had dropped way below zero. Guns and vehicles froze. The marines had to chip ice off the mortars to fire them. Frostbite claimed fingers, toes, ears, and noses.

One journalist who was there watched a marine chiseling breakfast out of a frozen tin of beans. His fingers were nearly frozen, too, and he could barely hold his spoon. The journalist asked the marine what he would ask for, if he could have any wish.

"Gimme tomorrow," the marine said, not looking up from his beans.

Perhaps the soldier’s request resonated up and down the line with his cohorts. Just trying to make it through one more day. To tomorrow.

Gimme tomorrow. For surely tomorrow will be better than today. And sometimes our yearning for tomorrow is what gets us through the trials of today. Longing for better days. For the clouds to part and let the sunlight shower us all in its warmth.

It was the Proverb writer that said, “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring” (Proverbs 27.1). We know this to be true. Yet there are times in our lives when it’s difficult to fully comprehend. We are not promised tomorrow (James 4.13-15; Luke 12.20). And yet, there are moments we encounter for when tomorrow can’t come soon enough.

Years following years steal something every day; At last they steal us from ourselves away.

Alexander Pope
Satires, Epistles, and Odes of Horace. Epistle ii. Book ii. Line 72

The years steal away until at last the years steal us from ourselves. This paraphrase of Pope reminds us that ultimately there is little of nothing left, and what has been lost is irrevocably lost at life’s end. None of us can turn back the years. We cannot add to our days if we have wasted our years. Even the wealthiest of men cannot buy or steal even another minute. There is a final curtain to life’s drama. All of us have an appointment that cannot be refused: “It is appointed unto man once to die, and after this, the judgment” (Hebrews 9.27).

It’s like Longfellow expressed in his 1866 poem entitled “To-morrow”. We feel the fresh breath of tomorrow creep. Wondering, yes wishing, that what it will usher in is better than today. Tomorrow. The mysterious, unknown guest, who cries aloud: “Remember Barmecide, and tremble to be happy with the rest!” Discovering, perhaps, that tomorrow is at best illusory or imaginary and therefore disappointing. It becomes the realization of the uncertainty of things on which we set our heart. As the beggar looked forward to a feast but found only empty dishes; so many a joy is found to be mere illusion when we come to partake of it. So our yearnings for tomorrow turns into an enigma. Never truly knowing if it will indeed be better than today.

We are all men and women out of time stranded in a heathen world. Sometimes we can’t escape the webs we are entangled in today. And there are times when we are the architects of our own fall. Yes, we all long for a brighter tomorrow. A time where we will be gathered home with the saints to our eternal rest. We set our eyes heavenward, and rightly so. But the goal becomes attainable when we are reminded of the now.

Yes, the cries of “gimme tomorrow” can cause us to pause our “todays” and neglect the work we are commissioned to do. And if we are not careful, we can become like the rich fool of whom was said, ‘This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?’ (Luke 12.20). Waiting for tomorrow and forgetting that today we are to be laborers in the vineyard, regardless of our present circumstances, is a dangerous slope indeed.

Hours, days, and years slide soft away,

In health of body, peace of mind,

Quiet by day,

Alexander Pope, Ode to Solitude, Stanza IV

Too often we miss out on the opportunity to do something decisive today. Never knowing where or when our Lord may say to us like He did to Hezekiah: ‘Set your house in order, for you shall die, and not live.’ (2 Kings 20.1).

More time he would have to give others, he'd say… Tomorrow.

The greatest of workers this man would have been… Tomorrow.

The world would have known him, had he ever seen… Tomorrow.

But the fact is he died and he faded from view,

And all that he left here when living was through

Was a mountain of things he intended to do… Tomorrow.

Edgar Albert Guest

All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today. Instead of blaming life, or worse yet God, we must work towards improving today by making judicious utilization of our short lives.

Life is real! Life is earnest!

And the grave is not its goal;

Dust thou art, to dust returnest,

Was not spoken of the soul.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A Psalm of Life, Stanza II

There is a reason to be alive today other than getting to the grave. But enjoyment is not one’s predetermined destiny. No, the great purpose in our lives is to act like each tomorrow finds us farther than today. Furthering ourselves and those around us in heavenly pursuits. Rather than worry about whether we are enjoying ourselves or feeling sad, we should focus every day on what we can accomplish in the here and now. For Him and His kingdom.

Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

2 Corinthians 6.2b

We think later is better than now. We sing the sun will come out… tomorrow. “Gimme tomorrow.”

Now is all we really have. We can anticipate tomorrow. But “sufficient for today is its own trouble.” Tomorrow will be anxious for itself. (Matthew 6.34) When we’re worried about tomorrow, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. And miss the opportunities that are in front of us. Today. Right now. We, like Felix, await a more convenient time… tomorrow (Acts 24.25). And yet:

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,

And our hearts, though stout and brave,

Still, like muffled drums, are beating

Funeral marches to the grave.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

So many wonderful things can be done now. Cemeteries are full of those who had ideas, plans and dreams for tomorrow. They ran out of “now.”

Focus on the now. Be mindful of today. Live in the moment. For when we are mindful of today then our attention becomes focused on what is happening now. In the present moment. Living in the present moment isn’t always easy, is it? Our schedules are so busy and hectic that it seems like there is always something coming up that we need to prepare for or anticipate.

With our hectic schedules, endless to-do lists and the growing number of responsibilities, it’s easy to see why so many people are walking around stressed and unhappy. We’re often worried about the future or thinking about the past.

What can life be? One must be stout and brave and following the beating drums of life to the grave. One does not have to go to their death without having accomplished anything though. Lead others to the cross. Show brotherly love. Display grace and mercy. Offer forgiveness.

“Forever is composed of nows.”

Emily Dickinson

Maybe that silly old bear was right after all:

“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.”

A.A. Milne

What would I ask for, if I could have any wish?

Gimme tomorrow?

Not while I have today. My favorite day.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,”

Heb. 3.13a