PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “Practicing what the years and centuries are saying against the hours.” By: Ron Woodrum
Someone, hoping to catch the witty cowboy entertainer Will Rogers off guard, asked him, “If you knew you only had 48 hours to live how would you spend them?” He responded, “One at a time!” Days, like hours, (and minutes and seconds for that matter), must be lived one day at a time. A cleaning lady was once heard telling her customer-“the problem with life is that it’s so daily!” Howard Hendricks used to say, “The problem with the Christian life is that it is so daily!” There is truth to that. The children of Israel grew “weary” of the daily manna from heaven. We become weary with our daily gifts of 24 hours from God. We take them for granted and miss out on their intended fullness. Ralph Waldo Emerson used to say “If the stars only came out one night a year, we would stay up all night to look at them!” But because they are daily we take them for granted. That being said, there is a special opportunity to embrace the Christian life being “so daily” and making it “Really Daily!”…by making sure that it is lived to the fullest intention of God! Otherwise we might be wasting our days instead of living them. Again, Emerson was convicting at this point. He said, “You cannot kill time without injuring eternity!” The challenge before us as Christians is to live one day at a time with the measure and meaning God intended, In his book For The Living Of These Days, William Elliott Jr. observes, “The reason why so many of us are overwrought, tense, distracted and anxious is that we have never mastered the art of living one day at a time. Physically we do live one day at a time. We can’t quite help ourselves. But mentally we live in all three tenses at once-Past, Present, and Future…And that will not work! The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday, carried today makes the strongest falter!” He might be onto something…we see a lot of “faltering Christians“. Maybe it is because they have not yet mastered “the art of living one day at a time“. The Bible has much to say about the living out of our days. It reminds us “Our days upon earth are but a shadow” (Job 8:9). “Are thy days as the days of man?” (Job 10:5). Man that is born of woman is “few of days” (Job 14:1). It is no wonder Moses prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). The Bible gives us some wisdom as it discusses daily activities that will ensure that are daily lives are “Really Daily” from God’s perspective.
First of all our days are to have a Daily Code. The dictionary defines a “code” as a “systematic code of law“. For the Christian his Daily Code is of course the Word of God. Days not spent in the Word of God are days robbed of Divine Perspective and Purpose! One of God’s great servants used to call the Bible “The Kings Highway Code“. Others have called it “The Christians Road Map“. We all should keep a daily appointment to spend quality time in God’s Word. It should be read; it should be studied; it should be memorized; it should be obeyed; it should be shared DAILY! We read that the Berean Christians were First Century examples for us. “They received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures DAILY whether those things were so or not!” (Acts 17:11). Peter told the believers he was nurturing to “as newborn babies desire earnestly the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby” ( I Pet. 2:2). A baby’s number one desire, above all else, is for “milk“. They desire it daily…several times daily! That is the kind of appetite that God delights to see in His growing children. The nineteenth century British statesman William Gladstone echoed that sentiment when he spoke of Christians needing to spend time in God’s word. He said, “This great spiritual library shows me how to meet and overcome life’s temptations, sorrows, and oppressions. It furnishes me techniques for the mastery of fear, anxiety, and despair. The Word of God corrects my perspective, and saves me from being undone by the immediate. It gives me something which all of us need so much in these desperate days-the long view. It tells me-in Emerson’s words ‘what the years and centuries are saying as against the hours’ “We need that daily-OUR DAILY CODE!
The Psalmist points out to us another imperative “daily activity” to help us make our daily lives REALLY DAILY. He reminds us of our Daily Call. He writes, “LORD I have called out daily unto thee, I have stretched out my hands unto thee” (Ps. 89:9). Asaph writes, “Offer unto God thanksgiving: and pay thy vows unto the MOST HIGH and call upon me in the Day of Trouble: and I will deliver thee and thou shalt glorify me!” (Ps. 50:14-15). I believe that every day should involve the daily call. Some call to the LORD as they start their day; others all throughout the day; others as they close out their day. Actually we are told to “pray without ceasing” meaning that our days should be filled with daily calls to the LORD, That is one thing the disciples learned about Jesus. He could not go long at all even during His busy days without “CALLING HOME TO THE FATHER“. One of the touching scenes in E.T. is the expression of his heart’s desire to “phone home“. That should be our daily heart’s desire. We are people of the Daily Call! One of the things I regret the most is that while living away from my parents that I did not call and talk to them more. Oh to be able to do that today! Don’t let your prayerlessness cause you to regret. Practice faithfully your Daily Call.
A third gem from the Book of Psalms reminds us of another Daily Discipline. The Psalmist writes, “So will I sing praise unto thy name forever, that I may perform my daily vows!” (Ps. 61:8). There it is-we have a Daily Chore. The dictionary defines a chore as “a small or odd job“. In his Devotional Book Daily Readings, W.E. Sangster tells of a shy Christian who sought the face of God for a way to minister by his life. God led him to have a ministry of encouragement by sending cards. Cards to those who were sick. Cards to the discouraged. Cards to the bereaved. Cards to family; cards to strangers; to people he read about in the paper; he heard about in conversations. His whole life took on a new twist. What a small insignificant thing to do. But only eternity will reveal the impact of that secret single daily chore of a dedicated servant of Jesus. Can you and I find some daily chore to vow to do for God? Seek His face. Make that commitment. Daily keep your vow! We have given our days some structure. A Daily Code; A Daily Call; A Daily Chore; now let’s go a little deeper. Jesus insisted that our Days must include our Daily Cross! Listen to Him as He says, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross DAILY, and keep on following me!” (Luke 9:23). We all have our own little interpretations of the “crosses we bear for Jesus“. But A.W. Tozer makes Jesus’ intention very clear…”we must recognize that the cross was the symbol of death; it stood for the abrupt, violent ending of if the life of a human being. The man who took up his cross and started down the road in Roman times had already said goodbye to family and friends. He was not coming back. He was not going out to have his life re-directed; he was going out to have his life ended! The cross made no compromises, modified nothing, spared nothing; it slew all of the man, completely, and for good. It did not try to keep on good terms with its victim. It struck swift and hard, and when it was finished, the man was no more!” So it is when you give your life to Jesus. Your life. Lived only for yourself, and for your interests, benefits, and desires, has been lost in His cause. To lose it, is to gain it. To try to keep it is to lose it all. Daily pick up your cross. Paul said, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). That is the essence of the Daily Cross. I love Elizabeth Cephane’s hymn/poem demanding nothing less. She wrote:
“I take, O cross, thy Shadow For My abiding place;
I ask no other sunshine than The Sunshine of His face;
Content to let the world go by, To know no gain or loss,
My sinful self my only shame; My glory all His Cross”
Lastly there is our Daily Care. Jesus had a daily burden. He said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save them that are perishing” (Luke 19:10). Jesus invested His days as the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep. That was His Daily Care. It took Him into locations; into individual lives; into conversations with sinners, publicans, harlots, and demoniacs, not to mention lepers, and even criminals. On the cross hear him engage with criminals about heaven and the forgiveness of sin. We talk about the weather; about the Cubs winning the World Series; about our jobs; our families; our hobbies. How about our Savior? Daily? Stephan Olford tells about a converted cleaning lady named Aunt Sophie. After she found Jesus she used to say that she was “called to scrub and preach Jesus”. Daily, she engaged everyone she met about her Savior Jesus. Someone made fun of her saying that they saw her talking about Christ to a wooden Indian in front of the town’s Cigar store. Sophie heard about it and said, “Perhaps I did. My eyesight is not too good anymore, but talking to a wooden Indian is not as bad as being a wooden Christian and never talking to anybody about the Lord Jesus.” Something we are told to do daily, some of us never do at all ever! To make our Daily Christian lives Really Daily we need that Daily Code-Daily Call-Daily Chore-Daily Cross-and Daily Care. Don’t let today pass without them! If you do you are “killing your days-and injuring eternity!”