Make Today Count!
A plaque marking Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace near Hodgenville,
Kentucky, records this scrap of conversation:
“Any news down t’ the village, Ezry?” “Well,
Squire McLain’s gone t’ Washington t’ see Madison swore in, and ol’ Spellman
tells me this Bonaparte fella has captured most o’ Spain. What’s
new out here, neighbor?” “Nuthin,’ nuthin’ a’tall, ‘cept fer a new
baby born t’ Tom Lincoln’s. Nuthin’ ever happens out here.”
Life’s great moments rarely receive a glance from the world.
Positive things go unnoticed by the masses while negative events make the
news. If you want to make the most of life, try this:
George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some men see things as they
are and ask why. I dream things that never were and say, why not?”
Paul strove to preach the Gospel where Christ was not named (Romans 15:20)
– and he did! Caleb heard them talk about giants and walls, but though
of God and winning. When he finally got them to stop whining long
enough for him to speak, he said, “Let us go up at once, and possess it;
for we are well able to overcome it” (Numbers 13:30). Oscar Wilde’s
last words were, “I am dying as I’ve lived, beyond my means.” When
God is in a thing, we can do more than we thought possible – Gideon’s three
hundred should have never defeated the 135,000, but they did (Judges 6).
Lord Chesterfield (1694-1773) said, “Aim at perfection in everything, though
in most things it is unattainable; however, they who aim at it, and persevere,
will come much nearer to it than those whose laziness and despondency make
them give it up as unattainable.” "In the
long run men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, though
they should fail immediately, they had better aim at something high" (Henry
David Thoreau). Paul said it this way, “I press toward the mark for
the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Another said, “If you can’t win, make the fellow ahead of you break the
record.” Your enthusiasm for Christ may start a fire in another’s
Find Something To Be Good At – Even
If It Is No Great Thing
Don’t despise little things; a lantern can do what the sun
can never do – shine at night. Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)
said, “If a man is called to be a streetsweeper, he should sweep streets
even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare
wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts
of heaven and earth will pause to say: ‘Here lived a great streetsweeper
who did his job well.’” John Garner, former U.S. Secretary
of Health, Education and Welfare said, “An excellent plumber is infinitely
more valuable than an incompetent philosopher. The society which
scorns excellence in plumbing because it is a humble activity and tolerates
shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither
good plumbing nor good philosophy; neither its pipes nor its theories will
hold water.” If I cannot do great things,
I can do small things in a great way (James F. Clarke).
Or, as Cicero put it, “Let him sing to the flute, who cannot sing to the
harp.” Use what talents you possess. The woods would be silent
if no birds sang there except the nightingales. Theodore Roosevelt
said, “Do what you can, with what you have, where
you are.” Solomon said, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to
do, do it with thy might . . .” (Ecclesiastes 9:10; cf. Colossians 3:23).
Remember, “A dewdrop does God’s will as much as a thunderstorm.”
Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin
Generally, those who attain excellence spend life in some
one single pursuit, for excellence is not often gained on easier terms.
Paul said, “This one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the
mark . . .” (Philippians 3:13-14). A Latin proverb
goes like this, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” Samuel
Johnson (1709-1784) said, “He who begins many things, finishes but few.”
David said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold
the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple” (Psalms 27:4).
Martha was told “one thing is needful” (Luke 10:42). A person who
will be good at what he does will have to say “no” to some good works.
Pay Attention To Detail
“The genius is in the detail” is a remarkably profound thought.
Or, as John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), put it, “Faithfulness in little things
is a big thing.” Little details separate the good from the great,
the faithful from the wayward, the saved from the lost. Henry Ford,
Sr., summed his business philosophy in these words: “Paying attention
to simple little things that most men neglect makes a few men rich.”
The Lord said, “He that is faithful in that which is least [elachistos,
“very little, smallest.”] is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust
in the least is unjust also in much” (Luke 16:10). Small deeds done
are better than great deeds planned. A Turkish proverb says, “measure
a thousand times and cut once.” Robert Service said, “It isn’t the
mountain ahead that wears you out – it’s the grain of sand in your shoe.”
Jesus condemned the Pharisees for omitting the “weightier matters of the
law,” but he did not condemn them for paying attention to the smaller matters
(“these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the others undone,” Matthew
23:23). “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of
heaven” (Matthew 5:19). George Morrison said, “Great services reveal
our possibilities; small services our consecration.” Jesus complemented
the faithful servant by saying, “thou hast been faithful over a few things”
(Matthew 25:21). In a similar parable (the pounds), Jesus says, “Well,
thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have
thou authority over ten cities” (Luke 19:17).
Keep Going . . . And Going . . . And
Thomas Edison, arguably the greatest American inventor, said,
“I start where the last man left off.” Max DePree commented, “A friend
of mine described a colleague as great at running the 'ninety-five-yard
dash.'” That is a distinction we can do without. Lacking the
last five yards makes the first ninety-five pointless. We rate ability
in men by what they finish, not by what they attempt. Paul said,
“I have finished my course . . .” (2 Timothy 4:6; cf. Job 17:9; Galatians
6:9; Hebrews 12:1). David encouraged Solomon his son, “Be strong
and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the Lord
God, even my God, will be with thee: he will not fail thee, nor forsake
thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house
of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 28:20).
As Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) said, “Make the most
of yourself for that is all there is to you.” Think about it.