The other day I sat down to do some work, to start writing the daily devotions are put on video and I found that I had nothing. Nada. Zilch. As I thought about working on bulletins for future services, I again found myself with no motivation. I thought about reorganizing something in my office. Didn’t care. Thought about cleaning out a room in the church. Didn’t really want to do it. I opened up my calendar and saw all the stuff that was supposed to happen. Baseball and softball games I was supposed to umpire. Men’s Band concerts that have been postponed. Smelt Feed cancelled. I started thinking of all the stuff that WASN’T happening and I must admit I got a little frustrated. Angry even. Tired of having to remember my mask when I go to the post office or gas station. Tired of having an empty church building day after day. Tired of not knowing how long this will last. Tired of missing so many people. I started to wonder if anything I was doing was really important, meant anything, and was worth it. Frankly, the only thing I really wanted to do was eat as much food as possible, but I knew I couldn’t do that without throwing away months of hard work. It was a pretty low moment.
In that moment I turned to my left to something that I have posted right next to my desk. Something that means a lot to me. Something my late father carried in his wallet. This is what it says:
This is the beginning of a new day. I have been given this day to use as I will. I will use it for good, because I am exchanging a day of my life for it. When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something that I have traded for it. I want it to be gain, and not loss; good, and not evil; success, and not failure; in order that I shall rejoice in the price that I paid for it.
Reading that snapped me back into focus. Look, it is ok to be frustrated, to be sad, to grieve all that we have lost in these times. It is ok to be angry. But we also have a choice every day. Reading this reminded me again of so many people who are choosing to do good in the midst of this pandemic, who are risking their lives every day to keep people safe, healthy, and society functioning. I was reminded that we, in the words of Lou Mongello, can “choose the good.” We can give into our anger, frustration, and grief or we can attempt to rise above it. What will we trade a day of our life for?
I swore after my Dad died that I would try to live life with the above at the center of my existence. Sadly, there are times when I have failed to live up to it. But at the same time I have also felt the grace and forgiveness of my Savior Jesus Christ who puts me back on track. Who reminds me that we all take up the cross to follow him and that means sacrifice for the sake of our neighbors and for the greater good. Who reminds me that every day I am made new through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and that my salvation is not dependent on my works but on what Christ has already done, which has freed me to try, to the best of my ability, to “choose the good.” To use each day for good, gain, and success the best that I can. To see the light shine even in the midst of darkness. To rejoice in the gift of life.
It might seem really hard right now to rejoice in anything. You might be filled with anger, frustration, and sadness. Give it to the Lord. Lay it at the foot of the cross. And then remember that you have been given today. Focus on today. Choose the good. Most of all, remember that Jesus Christ has chosen to love you, save you, and be with you always. For that we can say, “Thanks be to God!”