One Thing…One Day



In 1991 one of the popular movies was City Slickers with Billy Crystal and Jack Palance among others. If you haven’t watched it or haven’t seen it recently, it might be a great one to add to your list of movies to catch up on during this time when we are home.


In the movie Billy Crystal is on an adventure with two friends to try to find himself. The trio has often gone on adventures together, but the character Billy plays isn’t sure he wants to go this time. He feels pretty empty (I would say depressed), but his friends prevail on the outing to a dude ranch. The excursion is hilarious since all three of these friends are city dwellers, true “tender foot” guys.


The trail boss in the movie is played by Jack Palance as only he could play it. He’s salty and rough around the edges as he tries to manage these three and some others on this excursion none are prepared for.


One of the dialogues between Palance (Curly) and Crystal (Mitch) is worth remembering:


Curly : Do you know what the secret of life is?

[holds up one finger] 

Curly : This.

Mitch : Your finger?

Curly : One thing. Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean …

Mitch : But, what is the “one thing?”

Curly : [smiles]  That’s what *you* have to find out.

Today this dialogue came to mind and I think it speaks so clearly into this time of sheltering in place or self-quarantine.



We can either get lost in daily news items that threaten to wreak havoc on our souls, or we can settle in and consider what is that “one thing?” What is the secret of life for you? Our usual activities and busyness rarely allow for us to reflect on how we might answer that, but the answer is important. It will reveal where we anchor our days and what we choose to adjust as a result of what we learn during this time.


Our minds can too easily be pulled to look at not only what we are missing out on today, but what we will miss next or the week after as this continues. That’s natural for all of us as the things on our calendar are no longer options for us, but if we keep looking at all those days ahead, we will miss the beauty and provision that will be there when we get to those days that were altered.


Today we are not unlike the Israelites we read about in Exodus that needed to learn to live on the provision for “one day.” If you know the story you recall it was not something they did very well at the outset. The manna the Lord provided was not something they could store up ahead of time, but some of them tried it only to discover it was rotten and full of maggots the next day. This incredible gift of manna seemed a boring menu, so they begged for meat at another point because they still had not come to rest in the Lord’s provision one day at a time.


There is so much truth within that lesson for them and now for us. We presume we have tomorrow, next week, next month, and more on a routine basis, so it can be easy to forget that what we have is the one day we are living now. It can cause us to miss so many glimpses of beauty and provision if we fail to stay in that focus.



If we make the shift, we discover things that give us joy. For me it was seeing crocuses blooming near our garage door recently when I took a walk despite the cloudy, rainy, chilly temps. Another day it was tuning in to the sound of a bird I could not name but sang a beautiful song that I really took time to hear and listen to.


I have begun to notice how long my gratitude list is each day during this time as I notice little things I would have missed when life was as it used to be. How could I have missed that bird song on other walks? Why didn’t I notice the bulging buds on the trees preparing to burst forth into blossoms and leaves?


Corrie Ten Boom left a rich legacy for us as she shares her story of life during her time in a concentration camp during WW II with her sister. As she lived one day at a time, the Lord brought to mind one thing their father had taught them as children that encouraged them now in this agonizing time.


She retells the story in her powerful book, The Hiding Place:


“She confided in her father that she was afraid of death and was quite sure she did not have the strength to be a martyr. Corrie’s father reminded her of the train ride to Amsterdam. “”When you take a train trip to Amsterdam, when do I give you the money for the ticket? Three weeks before?”

“No, Daddy, you give me the money for the ticket just before we get on the train.”

“That is right,” her father said, “and so it is with God’s strength. Our Father in Heaven knows when you will need the strength . . . He will supply all you need just in time.”


And so, these illustrations point us to how to traverse this time in what may feel like a wilderness, while we live apart from one another and with no certainty about when that will change.


Mitch and Curly remind us in “City Slickers” we each need to determine the secret to life. The Israelites remind us to appreciate the provision for one day at a time. And Corrie’s father’s story reminds us that the grace we need for whatever is ahead cannot be allocated today because it isn’t for this day.


One thing…one day. 


Savor it.


Find the goodness in it.


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15 thoughts on “One Thing…One Day

  1. There are so many ways one can approach the current situation. I suppose how we decide to approach it and what we decide to learn from it can make all the difference. I am choosing to focus on hitting a reset button, getting more in tune with my family, resting my brain, my heart, and my soul, and focusing on gratitude and faith. But I do need to go watch City Slickers now! My husband loves that movie and I have never watched it!

  2. Thank you for inspiring us all to find that one thing we want to live for… It is such a simple secret yet so easily forgotten.
    May we all find our one reason to live for


  3. I love your encouragement. I have seen the movie and also The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boon’s story was one of the most inspiring stories of all time. I have noticed how nice it has been to slow my life down a little. I must admit to letting life get so busy I overlook what really matters. As tragic as this time is, I have learned from it. God will see us through, and I will be better for it. Great post.

    1. I love that you are familiar with the stories the Lord nudged me to pull together for this post. Thanks for your encouragement and thoughtful comments.

  4. Pam, I’ve not seen that movie, but I love the dialogue you posted from it! I’m glad we know that One thing that is the true meaning to life!

    I recently read this quote that caught my attention about sticking to one thing and not getting distracted by all the “news of the day:”

    “Stay in the day. That’s a phrase I find myself repeating whenever fear and doubt invite me to focus on the fall or next year or a hundred other worries I can’t control. I don’t know what next month holds and borrowing trouble from tomorrow won’t change that. Stay in the day.” —Jon Acuff

    Thanks for these refreshing reminders today! Adding that movie to my list! 😉

    Thank you for linking up at InstaEncouragements!

    1. Thanks for your kind words. The movie is an older one, but funny in some ways with some great nuggets here and there.

      I like that quote. I think I may have heard it before.

      Have a safe, healthy, blessed day!💕

  5. If I had to pick one thing this time has brought to me in respect to a “secret of life,” I’d have to say “time.” Normal days pre-virus found me getting up early, having a quiet time that finished when it was time to wake my husband for work, getting him off to work, and settling in to the day’s tasks … cleaning, writing, laundry, bills, etc. Four or five of the days saw me hurrying through those so I could head to one daughter’s or another’s house to tend to little ones, to do errands, to go to appointments, etc. Then home to make supper and go to bed.

    These days, I’m getting up a little later, doing a few odds and ends, checking on family members via Facebook, getting my husband off to work, THEN having my God-time … for as long as my heart and His desire. I read from several devotionals, journaling with three different ones. I have my prayer time, both verbal and written. I spend time just sitting and listening in the silence for His voice. I do a lesson or two of a Bible study.

    In between, I may take a break for breakfast, to take my dog out, to check Facebook, or to start laundry. But the key is not worrying about what time it is, how long I’ve been at it, what I should/could be doing. No, I’m just taking time. I’m content to stay home, content to ignore chores, content to share in a holy time with my Jesus. Then, when I feel fed and led, I open my computer and begin the day’s writing or whatever else I want to do, knowing I’m where God wants me … when He wants me … in His time. “In His time, in His time, He makes all things beautiful in His time. Lord, please show me every day, as You’re teaching me Your way, that You do just what You say, in Your time.”

    1. Thanks for all this great sharing. Our days have altered a bit as well and it amazes me that time isn’t dragging at all! unhurried time with the Lord is always amazing!!

  6. Thank you so much for this extremely encouraging post filled with so much Truth. Indeed, being present in the here and now is all we are really called to do. I had read somewhere that when the mind is thinking of the past or thinking of the future while living in the present, it creates a tension that inevitably causes anxiety which is why it is so important to be mindful of the present moment and put all of your focus into that.


    1. Thank YOU, Karen! I felt it was the Lord’s nudges in the writing of it. I love the sentence that you shared as well. It is solid truth for sure. This season is showing each of us just where we have been “living in a dream world” so often as Neo said in the film of years back, The Matrix. Be safe and blessed today♥️

  7. Thank you for this uplifting exhortation! I’m going to read it to my 3 teens daughters this morning. After the first two of many weeks in quarantine we need focus. I confess we’re starting to go just a little bit batty!

    1. I hear you Chris!! It has to be steady as she goes…one thing…one day for all of us. Take care!!♥️

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