Just For Today, Again

Youtube comments are just about the dregs of the internet. As a general rule I say it’s best to avoid them altogether. And yet it was some Youtube comments that God spoke to me through this past week.  Hard to believe.

Years ago, in what feels like another life, I was a song writer. I’ve written a pretty sizable stack of songs and actually had a handful of them see the light of day.

One song, by far, has surprised me over and over again with its sticking power. It’s a simple worship chorus, named “Just For Today.”  (Though it’s quite possible you may know it as “Father God.”

I wrote it in 1994 (I think…) I was a college student, studying theology and up to my ears in youth ministry. That particular week I was doing a gig at a Christian boarding school in Boise, Idaho called Gem State Academy. I was there for a spiritual emphasis week as the guest speaker and worship leader.

One afternoon, while I had some time to myself, I snuck into their auditorium to plunk away on the incredible grand piano they had on stage. While I was sitting there in the dark, playing that beautiful instrument, this song just came out.  That never happened to me, before or since. The whole song emerged–lyrics, melody, the whole thing.  I just captured it.

Something Small.

CDReleaseConcert
On stage at my CD release concert in 2005.

That week I taught it to the students there for the first time.  It’s a simple song.  On certain days when I was aspiring to be a “real musician,” it was almost embarrassingly simple.  4 chords.  A simple, memorable chorus.  A predictable melody line that sounds like a crowd of other songs.

Yet it felt powerful to me.  It was my prayer, the way I wanted my prayer to be every day, especially on the days when I didn’t have it in me to pray. I had the chance to teach it in a few other places – a couple of summer camps, a few more schools, at college, and later at the churches where I worked.

In 2004 I had the chance to record it, and for the recording, I added a second verse and a bridge.  (You can still pick up the recording on iTunes and CDBaby.)

I never toured as a musician playing for thousands of people.  Only a thousand CDs were made and most sold.  And somehow, this little song has made its way around the world.  That still blows my mind.

From time to time, I’ve had folks ask if there was a version of “Just For Today” on Youtube.  I never really knew that people use Youtube to find music to listen to.  It just never would have occurred to me.  (See, video and music are different things, and Youtube is a video site…  never mind.)

So, my answer was always, “No.”

Then I heard that there were a couple of videos that other people had put up, but the quality wasn’t that great.  So, I finally got my act together and asked a friend (Makenzie Loveridge) to whip up a video slideshow for me that I could post, with the original high-quality recording.

God Speaks Through Youtube Comments?

Back to the Youtube comments. I was having a really rough day.  I’d inadvertently hurt someone I care for pretty badly.  A number of endeavors in my life didn’t seem to be working.  On top of that, I had a general and deep feeling of sadness. The past 6 months have been one of the toughest times in my life–painful and stressful in the extreme.

One of the areas of brokenness I wrestle with is a need to perform well.  It’s really about belonging.  If I do something worthwhile, I’ll earn my seat at the table.  If I fail, maybe I’ll lose my seat.  Now, I know this isn’t true.   But I’m working to get that understanding to take root in my heart.

This past six months has felt like a failure in so many ways and this has taken an enormous toll on my heart. It’s been (and continues to be) a deep time of learning and growing as I wrestle through a lot of junk.

As I took the video Makenzie made for me and posted it, I thought I ought to search for the other videos and link them to mine, so that if people wanted to hear the “official” recording they could.  I’d been told right.  There were half-a-dozen videos of the song.  None of them were very good quality.  Handicam stuff.  One of them seemed to be the video from a camera sitting on the floor under a folding chair, while voices from people you couldn’t see sang.

But there below the videos were comments.

  • “I really love this song!..this is our theme song in the week of Prayer 🙂 it always reminded me that GOD is ALWAYS there for us.. if we call upon HIS name!”
  • “I learned this song in a Bible camp too in Szolnok (Hungary) from Richi Bacsi I love this song very much!”
  • “I learned this song in a bible camp in Yellowstone, Montana”
  • “This is my fav church song ever!”

I was taken by surprise.  Such kind words.  It was cool to hear that this little song I’d made so long ago was meaningful to people.  Then I came across this comment, from someone named Emily Stinnett:  “This the first song I sang at camp and it changed my life forever.”  It changed my life forever.  Wow.

I sat in stunned silence for a moment.  I was feeling like a failure, and here someone I didn’t know, probably would never meet, was saying their lives had been impacted by this little song.  By me.  By God through me.

I was humbled and grateful.  I was reminded of the priorities that matter.  I was even drawn back to the lyrics of my own song and reminded why this simple prayer is so important.

Father God, just for today / help me walk Your narrow way. / Help me stand when I could fall. / Lend me the strength to hear Your call. /  May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name. / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name.

Here I am, just for today / Live in me, have Your way. / For my desire, when this race is run / is only to hear You say “Well Done.” / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name. / May my steps be worship / May my thoughts be praise. / May my words bring honor to Your name.[note  Marc Alan Schelske, “Just For Today,” © 2004 Marc Alan Schelske, All Rights Reserved.]

This life isn’t about me.  It’s not about what I create or accomplish.  My value isn’t dependent on my performance.  And sometimes, like this once, I get a tiny window into the possibility that God can do big things in and around me that I’m not even aware of.

And Emily, thank you for your words.  And if you’re interested, here’s the video Makenzie made.  I’d love to hear your comments.

31 thoughts on “Just For Today, Again

  1. Thank you for writing this song Marc! I just wanted to share what an impact you and your song has had on my life. I remember leading worship for a group of outdoor scholars at Camp Tadmore, which happens to be the same place I believe we met and you showed me how to play a simple E form open A and B for your version of “River of Life.” I was leading a praise and worship with my pal Gabriel Orozco and I remember closing out the set with “Just for Today.” Half way through the song, I just lost it. I was like a full out cry without the tears. There was just something about the lyrics that just hit me. I am convinced, it was the Holy Spirit falling down upon me. “Just for Today” is my favorite praise and worship song and I hope I can bring honor to His Name everyday!

  2. I really like your song! Thank you for sharing it and your story/commentary about it. Don’t think I’ve ever heard it before. You are a blessing to many people, Marc!

  3. Reese – thanks for being involved and for being supportive throughout the years. I appreciate your friendship.

    Nathan – thank you so much for sharing that story here. That means an enormous amount. I’m humbled that God would use these little words in that way. Blessings to you in your journey!

    Joan – Thanks so much for the affirmation and leaving a comment.

  4. This is also my very favorite worship song and one of the very few “modern” ones that I know most of the words. And thank you too, for Makensie and her meaningful video. Well done! Your words truly bring honor to His name.

  5. So I noticed the Copyright on this as 2004, and a few lines are different than I recall. When did you write the original version, you know the one we sang at WWC & Camp Mivoden back in the early-mid ’90s?

    1. Hey Mike, I wrote “Just for Today” in ’94 or ’95. So, that’s actually when the copyright was registered. But I recorded it in 2004, and the copyright of that recording is for that year. The second verse was written for the recording, so that’s probably the part you didn’t know. Hope that helps.

    2. Never mind, the link I followed brought me to the middle of the post, after I commented I realized I missed the first part… All that time singing it I don’t think I realized you had written it. I mean I probably heard that you did when you introduced it at WWC, but that info didn’t stick… Great song BTW 🙂

  6. The chorus to this song is part of my life mission statement. It guides me through each day and helps me rise up and above darkness.

  7. thank you…I was doing a search for Father God and found your song. Just what my heart needed this morning

    1. Hey Rob, thanks for your comment and the link. That is a whole other chapter in the life of this song that is so interesting and cool to me. I have no connection to the Church of Christ that I know of. Because of the way you guys do acapella music for worship, I’m pretty sure the song didn’t come to you via my CD. And yet you’re right, about the connection there. I get more requests for sheet music from Church of Christ folks than anyone else. At least 3 acapella arrangements have been written that I know of, and it’s been included in one song collection. So amazing how this thing has a life of it’s own and God is using it in places I’ve never gone, and probably will never go. So amazing!

    2. Gentlemen, thank you.
      Marc, thank you for writing down what the Spirit gave you that day at the grand piano you wrote about. Thanks for sharing this prayer song.
      Rob, thank you for posting how many Church of Christ folks sing it! It was so good to hear it like I learned it in college.

      I’m not Church of Christ, but I attended Abilene Christian University in Texas (a Church of Christ school) and that is where I first heard this song, probably in 2005. It is such a beautiful memory/song. It’s simple, meaningful, and easy to sing/pray.
      I was sad the other day when I could not remember this significant song, but tonight God brought it back to me, and it’s so good to hear it again.
      Thank you both for your parts in blessing me.

  8. Hi, Marc! I’m planning on teaching this song to our Praise Warriors Children’s Choir here in Modesto, CA. My ears perked up when I saw that you wrote this at Gem State Academy. We went there on Band Tour one year back in the day. Did you attend WWC? I’m a PUC’ite myself. Well, God bless, brother! Thank you for letting God use you. I’d love to check out your sheet music too. Was about to write some. Thanks again!

    1. Hi Debbie, thanks for your comment. I’m thrilled to hear you’re teaching it to your kid’s choir. I did attend WWC. Graduated in ’95. If you want to email me via the contact page on this site, I’ll send you the sheet music that I have.

  9. I really, really like your song, I’ve been listening to it for about a year, I often make it part of my day, I feel a spiritual connection with God everytime I listen to it, the first time I heard it I was going through alot and everything seemed pointless to me.. I decided to go to you tube and find something that would help get through the day, I typed Just for Today.. and there it was.. I found Hope, I found the Lord and since then I’ve been walking a Christian life. Thank you. 🙂 God bless you.

    1. Wow, Mario. Your story is hope for me! It’s so easy to put this stuff out there and have no idea if it makes a difference or not. Thanks for letting me know. That means so much to me.

  10. The Spirit has brought me to Psalm 37 twice and now with the words of this song three times over yesterday afternoon and this morning. God is doing a powerful thing in my heart over the last 24 hours, just a mini revival my soul badly needed. My autoimmune diseases have been flaring badly and my depression has been as well, so basically physical and emotional pain have been drowning out everything else I need to be alive and present for, including my Savior. A link to a great article on Twitter, just reading my Bible because I can’t sleep yet again, and now this. Thank you for helping God wake me up this morning. Your blog about this song really touched my heart. I hope you can know your words are helping now. Thank you for letting the Spirit use you and inspire you and comfort you. I hope you can feel the love of Jesus strongly today.

    1. Good morning, Jennifer. Thank you for sharing. To hear that in the middle of such deep pain of heart and body, God is speaking to you–well, that encourages me. I hope you get some rest from all of it. Blessings.

  11. 18 years ago I sang this song the one and only time I got to go youth camp. I sang the song once and never heard the song again in 18 years. In those 18 years that have passed, I could never remember all the words. But when I needed it most, and on days I was just thankful to walk with Jesus. “Father God, just for today help me walk your narrow way. Help me stand where I may fall”. Would always pop into my head. Thank you for hearing the Holy Spirit’s calling on your heart to write this beautiful song and making a quality video. It just so happened that today, it popped into my head, and I was actually able to find it. May God bless you and know that you exactly who He created you to be and you are enough!

    1. Hey Hannah, what a great story. Thanks for sharing it with me. It’s really cool to be a part of other people’s spiritual journey in this way. I’m glad the song has been meaningful to you.

  12. Marc, where can I buy the sheet music to this song? It moves me greatly. To tears.

    My son is a 6th Grader at a Christian school. He started there in preschool. Every year I try to go to at least one chapel service. Several years ago they sang this song. I had never heard it before.

    I was a single Dad at the time. My son and I are, and have always been, very close. And the Principal is a very close family friend.

    She began leading this song in chapel. To hear the children sing this in their sweet and innocent voices made me weep. Then the Principal began tearing up.

    It is a very special song. I would like to buy the sheet music to this.

    Thank you.

    God Bless

    1. Hey Stan, how cool! Thank you so much for sharing this with me. It really means a lot to know this little song has been so impactful. As far as I know the SATB isn’t for sale as a stand-alone product anywhere. There are a couple collections out there that you can find it in. However, if you’ll email me at marc@marcalanschelske.com I’ll send you a copy of what I have.

  13. I’m wanting to make some copies of the song “Just for Today”. Is there a place I can contact you for permission? Thank you very much for your inspirational song!

  14. Thank you Marc… I found this song while wrestling through similar difficulties mentioned in your testimony. It sings like a prayer. I am amazed how the Lord works through our brokenness and shines in our weakness for His purpose and good. This piece is a true blessing. God is Faithful (1Cor 1:9)

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