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The Dignity Of Each Day
Rev. John Simpson, General Superintendent
Baptist Union of Victoria
Despite our positive singing about the day, there just may be a danger of undervaluing it. Now the more highly organised of us probably leap out of bed and into the shower in the morning with our "To Do List" clutched firmly in our hand, ask a blessing upon it and set about bringing in the Kingdom before lunch time.
Others who do not work with a list may wait quietly for a divine prompt which may or may not come depending on the time we got to bed last night. Those who are happily disorganised (without a list or a divine prompt spirituality) will do laps around the study feverishly trying to recall the proposed text for next Sunday's sermon or who was on the sick list and should be visited.
Whatever our manner of approaching each day, it may never register that today is the Lord's most significant and latest strategy for His world.
Too often we approach the day without any deep sense of its importance. What's on the agenda today, we wonder. Phone calls, reading, visits, sermon preparation, family time: the options grow rapidly. There is little hope that half of what we want to do will be attempted. Besides, it only takes one phone call to throw the best plans into confusion.
An accident, an illness, a death all have the ability to rewrite the script and totally reorder the pecking order. For some of us, we do not start well regardless of the circumstances. We commence with a flat battery and really need a jump start to launch into the day with all its possibilities.
At the end, the value of a day does not rest on whether we dealt the prophets of Baal a king hit, or managed to walk on water, or raised the dead. Nor does it matter if revival did not break out with tongues of flame everywhere. It is all very well to be seized by daring schemes, mission statements and visions of grandeur for the Kingdom. But if we fail to recognise that the smallest detail of the day has a crucial place in God's scheme for His world, then we have not grasped what we are about.
There is a need to dignify the seemingly insignificant: the casual, friendly greeting, or the thirty second affirmation of a friend, or a brief thank you note for a kind deed done all have their place in the forward movement of the Kingdom. We are always in danger of imagining that the up front exercises are the only ones which really count. It is what happens when the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing which signal that God is actively present with us.
There is no point having those grand schemes for the future if we cannot see the integrity of each day. On this basis, that moment of serendipity, that chance encounter, that unexpected conversation were not coincidences. Rather, they carried the imprimatur of a God who was engaged in everything we did.
Who of us have not phoned up someone on a whim only to discover that we had connected at a critical moment in their life? The "How did you know?" enquiry reminds us that the Holy Spirit still moves even the most ordinary servants in remarkable ways.
Too often we look back on a day and wonder what really happened. It is hard to gauge how we have been used by God and most of the time we do not have the slightest indication. It is a faith exercise after all. This is a tough call for those who like to be able to measure outcomes.
So how do we restore the dignity to each day?
* First of all, it comes as no surprise that it is a gift and (without meaning to be morbid), there is no guarantee of another one tomorrow. Let's live it as the last one available to us.
* Let's approach it as a day to be enjoyed (even if there is a tough meeting coming up tonight). If the exercise of ministry is a constant struggle to survive each day, then it is time to review what we are doing. An prolonged absence of satisfaction and joy is a signal which demands acknowledgement and action.
* Back away from the temptation to do too much. Think objectively about what is on that list (if you are a list person). How much of it is central to your calling? How many of those endless tasks really have to be done today? Are you wrung out simply because you have failed to say "No"? You are not called to die on every cross.
* Remember that it is today that your life will influence others, not tomorrow or next week or next year. It is the impact of this day which will progress the cause of Christ. It is what makes this day so special, so mysterious, so full of grace, so tantalising, so worthy of getting out of bed and entering it with wonder and anticipation.
* Check your attitude. If we are constantly watching the clock with a nine to five mentality, then we have surely misunderstood the nature of our call. Those pastors who faithfully add up the hours worked in a week may have missed the point too.
There is nothing clever about working ninety or more hours a week just to demonstrate a life of sacrifice. It could be a life of rank stupidity if it means deteriorating health, no clearly defined goals, marital tension, family neglect and time wasting work practices.
* Live today by faith (in case you may have forgotten such a basic maxim). Believe that, no matter how wonderful your five year vision for your church, today is the most important next step in the fulfillment of it. It is the Lord's vehicle for living His life in you. Be seized by the richness of all that is possible. It is not just another allotment of twenty four hours. It is a vital stage in the journey of discipleship, a divine piece of the eternal jigsaw.
Today? It is the greatest leap forward taken yet for the Kingdom. All over the world the saints of God will be engrossed in serving Jesus in countless ways: speaking up, living out, praying earnestly, healing the broken, giving themselves sacrificially for the Lord they love. Doubtless somewhere today in the world, a martyr will die a painful death only because they have a loyalty to the risen Jesus which goes beyond clan, culture or country.
What happens in your study or on your turf is a strategic part of God's total plan for advancing the Gospel today. From the largest urban congregation to the tiniest bush church in a forgotten tropical jungle, there is a profound teamwork of a kind which goes beyond our imagining.
This day is really about a calm and joyful acceptance of God's abounding grace sufficient for us whether we are in the gloomy valley, struggling upwards or enjoying a rare moment of undiluted, uninterrupted pleasure with the Lord right on top of the mountain (along with Moses and Elijah somewhere nearby in the wings).
Be grateful that you were able to get out of bed this morning. There may be some truly difficult matters on your agenda, the usual complications which make up life. But this day was planned by the Giver of Life from before the dawning of time itself.
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This page was revised on: Tuesday, October 05, 2004 11:04:37 PM