HOW WILL YOU LIVE TODAY?
By DANNY MINTON
The time was late afternoon, Dec. 10, 1965. Daylight was fading on a rather warm day for December in North Central Texas. The high temperature for the day had been 66 degrees with winds rustling the trees in the neighborhood around our football field in Plano, Texas.
By tradition, each afternoon before our game the following day the team would gather at the south end of the field to talk about the upcoming game. The team in dingy white practice pants and pad-less jerseys lay around on practice dummies and ground surrounding the end zone line of the field. The group comprised seniors and juniors with a sprinkling of sophomores. There were no coaches present. This gathering was a time that the team would talk about the upcoming game and get game-ready for what would be one of the biggest games of the year.
This particular meeting was the afternoon before we were to play Iowa Park in Wichita Falls for the semi-final AA championship of Texas. We were picked to be beaten by two touchdowns. Iowa Park was a good team, having beaten teams ranked above them as they made their way to this spot in the playoffs. Our team, the Plano Wildcats of 1965, were not expected to be here. It was the 1964 team that everyone thought would be the one to carry this small town to its first championship, but an unexpected loss in the first round of the previous playoff year had abruptly ended the dream. Here we were again the juniors of the 1964 team now leaders of the 1965 team. It was this group that in 1961 had pledged that one day we would win the state championship. Here we lay only one game away from reaching the game that had been our goal since junior high.
The meetings on the afternoon before the games were one way to encourage each other, building one another up as we prepared ourselves mentally to play. It was during this meeting that one player spoke up and said, “Don’t forget what happened to the team last year.” He was referring to a possible attitude that we were good and knew it and didn’t take the first playoff game seriously enough. It was then that one in the group made the statement that put things into proper perspective. The words came out something like, “We need to stop thinking about last year and focus on today!” Our focus snapped back to where it needed to be, preparing for the battle at hand.
What about people today? Do we spend too much time in the past and not enough preparing for what lies ahead? Do we let ourselves be discouraged by the failures of days gone by or maybe overconfident due to successes from yesterday? Do we find ourselves wishing for the “good ole’ days?”
In high school, I could do a gymnastic feat called a “kip-up.” It’s an act where you lie on your back, put your hands on the floor by your head and, kicking your feet high in the air, in one motion going from lying down to being on your feet. I was good enough at it that I could do it without using my hands. A few years ago I decided to try to do it again. I found out that I cannot do in my 60’s what I could do at 17. My mind was in the past, but my body was definitely in the present.
Paul once wrote in a letter to the Philippians, “But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” He had things in his past that he was not proud of doing. He had accomplishments that he had achieved. In spite of all this, the most important thing to Paul was today in hopes of achieving tomorrow. There was still more to accomplish. To spend too much time regretting failures of the past or reliving the glories of yesterday did not help him reach his goal of being more like Jesus.
Most of us have done something in the past that we regret, some years ago, some more recent. In the majority of cases, there is nothing we can do to change what took place or what we did. We find ourselves haunted by these events that are but a memory. Allowing them to “eat at us” hinders us from moving forward. Those things we can’t change are things we can take lessons to do better the next time. It is in these times that we must tell ourselves, “OK, you messed up, get over it and don’t do it again. Today is a new day with tomorrow having new and better dreams.”
On the other hand, there are successes of the past that we cherish. These are accomplishments that I hold dear and have some inner pride in having been a part of some great things. However, they are in the past. They are things I remember and at times reminisce. They, though, define my past, and I can learn a lot from those great successes. But what about today? Today there are different challenges and tomorrow will bring even newer ones. As Paul implies, the most important day of our lives is today!
What will you do for Jesus today? How will you treat people today? What is your goal today? How will people view you today? It is today that we need to look into our lives and see what we need to do to be a better person, a stronger servant of our Lord. It is what we do today that matters most. The days of yesterday are gone, we can’t change them, and we can’t go back and relive them. Tomorrow? Well, tomorrow isn’t here and may not come in our lives at all. So it is Today that becomes the defining moment of who we are in this life.
Paul in his life was living for Today in the hopes that Tomorrow he will be in the presence of this God. That was his goal, but to achieve it was a day by day journey.
On Dec. 10, 1965, the Plano Wildcats were a two-touchdown underdog to a strong Iowa Park Hawk team. When we went to bed the night of Dec. 11, 1965, we were the semi-final champions, having won by a score of 40-8. On the practice field, Monday, Dec. 13, 1965, it would again be “Today,” with memories of the past and a future for which to prepare.
Who will you be today? It’s the most important day of your life!
Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”–James 4:13-15
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ