Monday, October 27, 2008

This Is the Day

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.

                        Psalm 118.24

Marking Time

In the weeks leading to my partner’s birthday, I can count on him sinking into a mild funk. If you knew him, you’d know why. He’s forever young. Somehow, he’s kept the best of his youth in top condition and easily in reach. One minute he looks like the suave, swarthy middle-aged man he is. The next, something triggers a favorite memory—a “Flintstones” rerun, for instance—and suddenly he’s a kid perched on his parents’ sofa, wide-eyed, grinning ear-to-ear. It’s a magical, rare gift, which is why approaching birthdays throw him. What if it has an expiration date and this year is it? I indulge his glumness as long as I can (probably longer than I should) before I snap: “Quit whining about getting old and start thanking God you’re still alive. Lord knows you’ve dodged more than your share of bullets!” I’m not sure it consoles him, but it sure shuts him up.

Jeremiah, the Sad Prophet, said, “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” (Lamentations 3.22) It’s wise to remember this while marking time, whether day-to-day, season-to-season, or year-to-year. We’ve all dodged more bullets than our share. We’ve taken foolish risks, blindly walked into danger, ignored warning signs, and whimsically exposed ourselves to harmful people and influences. We look back at things we’ve done and can’t believe how lucky we are to live to tell about it. But good fortune played no role in our survival. Psalm 121.3 assures us, “He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber.” God’s mercy and grace protected and continues to protect us. And given our penchant for mischief, keeping us safe is a ‘round-the-clock job.

At the End of the Day

A lot of us may recognize Psalm 118.24 as the lyric of a buoyant praise-and-worship ditty that’s been around since the late Seventies. When we read it as part of its original song, however, it carries much more weight. The psalm comes from someone beset on every side by enemies. In anguish, he calls on God, Who makes His presence known. Emboldened, he says, “The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” His adversaries attack him, one after another. Yet each time he reports, “In the name of the LORD I cut them off.” At the end of the day, he experiences an epiphany: “I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.” He takes a few moments to reflect on all he went through earlier—the fear he overcame and the victories he won—before sagely giving credit where credit is due. “The LORD has done this,” he explains, “and it is marvelous in our eyes.” Then he says, “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Monday’s Song

It’s Monday, when most of us leave our comfortable cloisters for a world of competitive challenges and conflicts. Some of us will inadvertently, capriciously, or knowingly stumble into harm’s way. Some will look fear in the face. Others will find we’re encompassed by hostile circumstances that set at us one by one. We'll live the psalmist's story. But rather than think of Psalm 118.24 as a happy tune for a Sunday morning, let’s adopt it as Monday’s song.

This is the day the Lord has made. He has ordained everything it holds for our benefit and growth. His mercy will protect us. His eyes will never look away from our undertakings. He will make His presence known to us. We won’t be afraid—what can anyone do to us? As each problem arises, we will dispatch them in His name. We will not die, but live. We will tell of His goodness. As the day closes, we’ll rejoice in saying, “God made this day,” and we’ll be glad to have lived it.

God made this day. He ordained everything it holds. And at the end of it, we will rejoice and be glad.

(Tomorrow: Heavy Equipment)

Personal Playlist: To Start the Day

I’ve not put one of these together in a very long time, and I miss doing it. If you’ve started dropping in since the last one, the only thing you should know is that my musical tastes tend to run more toward black gospel (due to my Pentecostal roots) and pop than contemporary Christian. Here’s a list of personal favorites that I often rifle through as I prepare to start my day. By all means, feel free to offer your recommendations and, as you do, I’ll update the list.

1.    Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens

2.    This is Another Day, Andrae Crouch & The Disciples

3.    Gonna Be a Lovely Day, Kirk Franklin & The Nu Nation Project

4.    Celebration Medley, West Angeles COGIC Mass Choir

5.    Beautiful Day, U2

6.    Still Say Yes, Byron Cage

7.    You’re All I Need to Get By, Kathy Troccoli

8.    Beautiful, Carole King

9.    Today, The Richard Smallwood Singers

10. Lord Keep Me Day by Day, Albertina Walker

11. Feelin’ Stronger Every Day, Chicago

12. Days, The Kinks

13. Oh Happy Day, The Edwin Hawkins Singers

14. Some Days You Gotta Dance, Keith Urban

15. Just Another Day, Sam Cooke

16. On a Day Like Today, Bryan Adams

17. I Just Want to Celebrate, Rare Earth

18. Jesus Be a Fence Around Me, Fred Hammond

19. Gotta Feelin’, O’Landa Draper’s Associates

20. The Best Is Yet to Come, Donald Lawrence

21. Thank You, Walter Hawkins & Love Center Choir

Your Additions:

22. Forward Motion, Relient K (Thanks, Missy!)


Missy said...

Good song list!

I think Relient K's "Forward Motion" goes well with the sentiment of this post. (experience the bittersweet, taste defeat then brush your teeth)

Cuboid Master said...

One of my favorites is "You're All I Need to Get By." It is such an uplifting song.

Brilliant post as always...

Tim said...

Missy, didn't know about Relient K--thanks for the intro! LOVE "Forward Motion." I downloaded the entire album, "Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right... But Three Do" and I see myself falling into a "K Hole"; I'm heading back to iTunes later tonight to get the rest of their stuff.

This takes me back to my college years listening to Iggy, Blondie, Joey, DeeDee, and every other punk band I could get my hands on. (I actually made it to CBGB in its heyday and caught Talking Heads and Blondie...) And now to have a smart, unbelievably witty band with a solid Christian slant--I'm a kid in a toy store. What great joy!

Cube, if you don't have Trocolli's cover of "You're All I Need," you should check it out. Of course, nobody compares to the Gaye/Terrell original, but the girl's got pipes and she manages to "Christianize" it without wrecking it.

Thanks to both of you for chiming in.

Missy said...

Ha! I've turned you on!

Oh, man, Iggy, Blondie, the Ramones, Talking Heads--you're speaking my language. Rawk On!