Do you remember the parable Jesus told about the rich fool? His land produced a bountiful harvest, so he began making plans to store his extra grain: he would tear down his old barns and build larger ones. He envisioned a future life of ease and relaxation. But for that man, tomorrow never came. He died that very night (Luke 12:16-21).
Jesus told that story to warn people against greed. But the parable also shows us what happens when we live only for tomorrow and not for today. We miss opportunities to love and care for people and to deepen our relationship with the Lord. It’s not that we shouldn’t plan and save for the future. It’s just that focusing on it too much can cause us to miss out on all that God wants for us today.
The man in the parable believed that once his grain was safely stored, he could “rest, eat, drink, [and] be merry” (Luke 12:19). The irony is that the man was projecting a future life full of happiness and joy when in fact God wanted him—and us—to live joyfully and peacefully today.
Why? First, simply because God loves us. He delights in us. We are the apple of his eye (Psalm 17:8). He is close to us, even when we are not aware of him. We are always in his heart: “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you” (Isaiah 49:15). Like a good parent, God wants us to know his love and live for him every day that he gives to us. Recalling his love and closeness can give us joy and peace today, no matter what is going on.
God Touches Us in the Present. There’s another reason to live each day joyfully. God has given us today as a gift. It is only in the present moment that we have the opportunity to experience his mercy and grace—and share it with the people around us. We can look back on our past and see how faithful God has been. We can trust that he will be with us in the future. But it is only now, in this very moment, that we can experience God’s touch on our hearts. It is only now, in this very moment, that we can receive his grace. Like the manna in the desert, we can’t store it up. Today’s grace is available to us now, and only now.
We might look at our daily lives as routine and predictable. But amid all our duties and responsibilities, we can be aware of God’s presence. In the eighteenth century, the French Jesuit priest Jean-Pierre de Caussade wrote a book entitled Abandonment to Divine Providence, which has become a spiritual classic. He says this about the present: “There is not a moment in which God does not present himself under the cover of some pain to be endured, of some consolation to be enjoyed, or of some duty to be performed. All that takes place within us, around us, or through us, contains and conceals his divine action.” So let’s not miss a single moment of God’s grace and presence!
If Today You Hear His Voice. Not only is God with us each and every moment of our day, but he also wants to speak to us and continue to form us into his image and likeness. That’s why daily prayer is so important. We don’t want to miss what God wants to say to us today. He may want to assure us of his mercy and forgiveness. He may want to give us clarity about a problem we are facing or inspire us to reach out and help someone close to us. He may want to quietly prepare us for something unexpected that only he knows will come later that day.
God speaks to us not only in our daily time of prayer but during the events of our day as well. In every moment, we can be alert to his voice. He may want to guide or inspire us to pray for someone, to offer a word of encouragement, or to change our plans. Remember: the Holy Spirit lives in us! As we become more attuned to his voice, we will live each day in God’s will and do whatever he asks of us in that moment.
Today also gives us the opportunity to be freed from our sins. We can hear the voice of the Spirit convicting us of our sins so that we can turn to the Lord and be forgiven. As St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Behold, now is a very acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:3). So we don’t want to let today go by without examining our hearts and asking the Lord for forgiveness for any ways, big or small, that we have sinned. Each day he gives us is another day to receive his mercy and grace.
Building God’s Kingdom Today. Today you have the chance to help build God’s kingdom on earth. You cannot live tomorrow right now, and yesterday is gone. But today is filled with so much promise and hope. Often it’s the little, seemingly insignificant decisions we make each day that determine whether that will happen. But even the smallest of actions can create a ripple effect of grace that touches many, many people.
For example, today you might ask God for the grace to resist a temptation to gossip or to grow envious. You might look for opportunities to share your faith, perhaps by asking a friend if they would like you to pray for them, or even with them for a moment. God wants us to be “making the most of the opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). He wants us to be a vehicle of his love and mercy today. The same opportunities may not be there tomorrow!
Today is also the time God has given you to serve people. Again, it doesn’t have to be big. When you shop for groceries and make dinner, when you help your children with homework, when you offer to assist a coworker or a neighbor, you are serving in ways that build God’s kingdom. It’s interesting that on the last night Jesus lived on earth, he washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-14). How blessed we will be if we serve our brothers and sisters with each day God gives to us!
Finally, every day offers us numerous opportunities for simple acts of kindness. These too build God’s kingdom. Maybe the beleaguered cashier needs a smile or affirming word. Maybe you can graciously let someone in front of you on the road or make that donation you’ve been putting off. Maybe you can listen attentively—instead of tuning them out—while someone talks about their day. “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have,” Scripture tells us. And why? Because “God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind” (Hebrews 13:16).
The Gift of Today. Every day God gives us to live on this earth is a gift no matter what our age or state of health. Every day, including today, he invites us to decide: “Will you stay close to me today? Will you serve me and my people? Will you make the most of each opportunity that I am going to give you today?”
Each morning when we open our eyes, we can say yes to God. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice in it and be glad” (Psalm 118:24). We never know what each day will be like, but when the evening comes, we can thank the Lord for that day.
Some of our “todays” will be filled with joy; some will contain challenges. Most will have both. But each and every day, God wants to give us all that we need to love and serve him. So even on those hard days, trust him. Trust that he has the grace you need at the moment you need it—because he is with you, right here, right now. Today.