In a culture clamoring for your attention, we’re also overrun with books and seminars teaching us “how to get the most out of today.” Tips on time management, productivity, and focus abound. While most of these are great tools, are they really the answer to getting the most from your day?
I’d like to propose five alternatives.
These aren’t tools so much as they are perspective choices. Think of them as the foundation you’ll be building on with all those tips and tools. If you get these right, all else will fall into place.If you get these right, all else will fall into place. Click To Tweet
1. Don’t regret yesterday. Step into grace.
We’ve all been there: Cringing at the thought of yesterday. Wondering, “What if…?”
- What if I’d said it differently?
- What if I’d kept quiet?
- Why didn’t I do something? Anything?
- What if I would have just walked away?
- Oh God, why didn’t I obey Your prompting?
I’ve made some king-sized failures and missed a few king-sized opportunities. There usually wasn’t an easy fix, sometimes changing forever what came after.
But in this, I developed a deeper, richer understanding of grace.
In Christian circles, we say the word all the time. So much so, I think we lose the awe of what grace really is and can do in our daily life. Yes, grace is unmerited favor. It is being embraced even when you don’t deserve it. But it’s so much more!
Grace not only beckons you into God’s presence, it not only receives you because of Jesus’ sacrifice, grace then empowers you to walk in victory and joy as you accept its flow in your life. While you’re growing and learning to walk by the Spirit, God’s grace also fills in the gaps and redeems the failures.
As an empty nester, grace saves me from languishing in the last season of parenting. I could look back, wishing I’d handled specific moments very differently, mourning my mistakes and lamenting how they may or may not have shaped future paths of my sons. But as I stand in grace, I’m filled with hope for redemption of errors and the joy of new horizons. As I choose grace, I can rest in the faithfulness, power, and wisdom of my Savior. I know He’s working in ways I never could, even if I would have done things “perfectly.”
2. Don’t fear tomorrow. Walk in peace.
Oh, so much easier said than done, I know. But this doesn’t mean it’s not possible or worth it.
I’ve noticed something for a number of years: The Bible constantly tells me to let God have His way in me. To let myself agree with Him. To let His life move and live through me. This word, let, seems to jump off the page nearly every time I’m reading.
Two particular verses on peace stand out in this regard.
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” John 14:27 NASB (emphasis mine)
“And let the peace (soul harmony which comes) from Christ rule (act as umpire continually) in your hearts [deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your mind…]” Colossians 3:15 AMP (emphasis mine)
While fear may seem an insurmountable obstacle in your life, you really have more power over it than you realize. Fear has been completely defeated by Jesus. Because of Him, fear only holds you captive as much as you let it.
I’m not speaking only from theory or theology. I know this from experience. I let fear control me for many, many years. But as I set my mind on truth, as I filled my thoughts with God’s Word, as I gazed upon His majesty and power and wisdom, fear became a very small pebble. I still had to step over it. I had to choose to let it go, but fear no longer paralyzed me.
As you build today with tomorrow in mind, let the peace from Christ rule in your heart. Let it lead you and keep you, that fear would have no influence on your decisions and future.
3. Lean into today. Embrace moments.
Hurry. Hurry. Hurry. Go. Go. Go. It seems we’re always running down the path, already longing for and trying to live out our tomorrows. But what about today? What about this moment? Remember, you were longing for this day on some yesterday back down the path. Now you’re missing it by still looking at the horizon.
There are definitely times to gaze at the horizon and dream about things to come. But if that’s all you do, you never really reach the dream you’re standing right in the middle of. Slow down. Pause. Stop. Take a deep breath and really live today. Let it touch all five senses and lead you to the One who stands in the midst. Allow yourself to see how it is a precious piece of the whole.
4. Be teachable. Go low.
As parents, we’ve often lifted our kids up so they could see better. But sometimes I wonder if we should get down on their level so we can see better. How much are we missing by thinking we’ve seen it all before? How many details lost because of assumption?
Just as we can lose today by always looking at tomorrow, we can also lose today by closing our eyes to the possibilities right at our fingertips. As I wrote in I’m So Glad I Don’t Know it All, there’s always more to learn. Always. We never, ever know it all. And when you take on the challenge to learn still more every day, you gain treasure beyond your wildest expectations: Not only knowledge and information, but understanding and kindness, humility and relationship.
Being teachable opens up all kinds of new possibilities. Step through this door and get more out of today than you can imagine.
5. Take joy. Find beauty.
You may be in a fruitful season where joy comes easy: Beauty abounds and pleasure comes at every corner. If so, soak in as much as you can. It greatly honors your Creator when you recognize and celebrate the beauty before you.
But this may be a tough one for you right now. You may look at your situation and see nothing but death. It may look dark and bleak; empty and hopeless. I don’t doubt that hard seasons come. They are part of walking this earth. But just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow, you can know this:
“…God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28, NASB
These aren’t just words we quote to make ourselves feel better. They are a firm foundation. They are a rock-solid assurance. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your eyes to see the beauty He is working in your midst. Ask Him to reveal the hidden springs in this desert and let your tears become refreshment.
When you stop seeing beauty and finding joy in today, you push tomorrow away. You fall into a rut and forget you’re on a journey and this is but one day, one season. Allow God to lift your head. Allow Him to restore your hope. Put down the idea that it’ll always be this way. There’s always beauty in today when you gaze upon Him.
Today is a gift.
It was birthed out of yesterday and is a building block for tomorrow. Make sure your foundation is solid and unshakable. Build upon these five choices and watch your days fill with life, hope, and color.
“Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against the house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.”
Luke 6:47-48 NASB