I have never been one to live in the moment or take it one day at a time. When I was in first grade, growing up in Houston, I was set on going to Rice University and studying architecture. Surprisingly enough, my interests changed over the course of the next 10 years, and I decided to study journalism. Rice doesn’t offer a journalism program, so I was off to the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU.
I’m all for being goal-oriented, driven and “long-term greedy,” but that long-term, big picture mindset can get me into trouble when I become infatuated with the end result and want to skip the process.
I recently went to a pair of conferences in the DFW Metroplex on back-to-back and had the privilege of listening to the teaching of a number of brilliant speakers. As I took my mouth off the figurative fire hose of wisdom and attempted to process the information, a few things happened in my head and heart.
First, I was encouraged and challenged by the teaching, ready to charge hell with a water pistol and kick my struggles, fears and shortcomings in the face. The Lord was gracious enough to shine a light on some areas I need to address while reminding me of the ever-flowing river of grace that I find myself in.
Then I became discouraged. These guys, many of whom are twice my age, seem to have it all together. They recite Scripture as if it’s just a natural part of their conversation. Wisdom seeps from their pores. They saw poker tables in half just to prove that it is more important for them to sacrifice to care for the weaker brother than it is to enjoy their freedom.
And then there’s me: a single 20-something who has a handful of verses filed away in his noggin somewhere next to the entire verse from Ludacris on Usher’s song, “Yeah” that came out my freshman year of high school. I don’t even own a saw to make a demonstration of my convictions. How in the world am I going to get to the level of maturity of these juggernauts?
As I drove from the conference, The Lord revealed a piece of insight not from my pool of Scripture knowledge but from my ocean of college football knowledge.
Win the day.
When Chip Kelly took over as the head coach of the Oregon Ducks in 2007, he brought with him the mantra of “Win The Day.” The slogan is plastered around the stadium, facilities and merchandise. The concept is simple. Don’t look ahead, focus on the task at hand and take it one day at a time. I later read about the same point in Matt Chandler’s book “Recovering Redemption.”
The men who spoke at the conferences didn’t come out of the womb reciting Scripture, nor did they suddenly wake up one morning after having truckloads of wisdom imparted upon them in a dream. They grew in the same way that I will continue to grow: By taking it one day at a time. If I look at the desired end result and expect to embody that tomorrow, it will yield nothing but discouragement. Win the day.
The battle for holiness is a long battle. When I look at the mountains of days that, statistically at least, lay ahead of me, it can be easy for me to say, “I’m going to crap the bed at some point in my life, so now is as good a time as any.” It’s overwhelming to think about how long we will likely have to endure under sin on this side of eternity. Praise God that we don’t have to endure by our own strength.
When I re-orient my mindset to win the day, win the moment even, my entire perspective changes. I want to live a life marked by love and holiness. It will be far easier to do so if I try to live moment after moment marked by holiness.
This concept helped change the way I look at a piece of Scripture that impacted me more as a young believer than just about any other.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” -Matthew 6:33-34
Don’t worry about how wise you will be tomorrow, the next day or thirty years from now. Take steps today to grow. Don’t worry about how long you will have to wage war against sin in your life (the answer, by the way, is every dang day.) Worry about how you will win the battle today.
Every morning, I ask the Lord to help me win the day. Help me know you more when I return to my bed than when I got out of it. Win the day. Then the next. And the next.