The NCAA brackets have officially been released, and the games begin Tuesday night. If you’re like me, you can’t wait to watch all the action and experience game after game during the tournament.

What strikes me as unfortunate is how quickly we blow past the conference tournaments that took place this past weekend. It’s a big deal to win four games in four days, and knock off familiar opponents from your league.

Duke beat UNC Friday night on their way to winning the ACC Championship, and Michigan made an impressive run to win the Big 10 Championship.

But is there any time to soak in those wins? Everyone quickly moves on to the “Big Dance” and soon forgets the great accomplishments that took place during those conference championships.

It seems to me, there needs to be a little more time and emphasis on those wins, so teams can experience the elation of their incredible feat…instead of having to shift their attention so quickly.

Of course, I understand how important the next tournament is, and teams are playing for a National Championship, but I find the concept of rushing through and moving on so quickly as an issue we all face beyond basketball.

The truth is, we have a tough time pausing to appreciate the blessings we experience each day. We’re always thinking about starting the next thing on our to-do list or landing the next deal or taking on the next project.

We’re already planning the next move or the next kid or the next vacation without embracing the joy of our present circumstances.

As followers of Jesus, I believe we should live with gladness and thankfulness – pausing in the present to acknowledge the blessings we have right now…instead of worrying about what’s next and always wanting more.

If we don’t embrace each amazing moment during the tournament, then March will just fly by, and unfortunately, the same will happen in our own lives.

Job reveals this in the Bible when he says in Job 9:25 (NLT), “My life passes more swiftly than a runner. It flees away without a glimpse of happiness.”

Life on this earth is short, but we can still pause to enjoy today and remember the words in Psalm 118:24 (ESV): “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

As we think about the now instead of the next, let’s ask God to open our eyes to see what He’s doing…and allow us to look around with joy and thanksgiving for today. I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, forgive me for not appreciating the many blessings You give me each day. Please help me to slow down and be aware of all You’re doing in the present, so I can live with joy and thankfulness. Please help me not to get so wrapped up in what’s next, and miss out on what’s happening now. I pray this in Jesus’ name, Amen.