a good day

“Now THAT was a good day.” When do you utter those words?

For me, it is a day when I crossed lots of things off my to-do list. Add to that a day with nice weather, well-behaved children, a clean home, a workout, a cup of coffee, and chocolate, and I would call it GREAT.

In general, I have discovered that my standard of a good day is if it (a) makes me feel happy (b) is easy (c) gets me closer to a goal or (d) all of the above.

I wonder sometimes if I am using the wrong standard of evaluation. What if I used Philippians 2:1-4?

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make

my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Or maybe Romans 12:12-13?

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

If those verses are my standard of what a good day looks like, then…

  •  When I set aside my to-do list in order to help someone else, it is a good day.
  • When I invite someone into my somewhat messy home, elevating community over outward appearances, it is a good day.
  • When my children are throwing temper tantrums and I show them unconditional love, it is a good day.
  • When someone wrongs me, and I choose to forgive them, it is a good day.

I find hope when I use the words of the Bible as my standard of what a “good” day means. It still means the things listed at the top of this post are good. Because when those things happen, I am appreciating God’s blessings and who He made me to be. But it also means many other things are good as well- hard things that, in my own strength, I may have put in the "bad day" category.

It is hard to be patient with strong-willed children. It is hard to submit to a difficult boss. It is hard to get past something that has hurt us. It is hard to give up our agendas in order to follow through on something God has put on our hearts.

These things are hard. They make for hard days. However, an easy day and a good day are not necessarily the same thing. If easy is our standard of good, then our standard is too low. We are eternal beings created by a good God for a good purpose. Our days are gifts from that good God. Sometimes they are a gift for our present, and sometimes they are a gift for our future. When we can let go of our own agendas, and appreciate that truth, we can go to bed more often uttering the words,

 “Now THAT was a good day.”

noticed

Noticed Joseph is a guy who gets noticed.

His father gives him a special coat that makes him stand out from the crowd. He has dreams of grandeur that cause his brothers to hate him. Even after his life takes a terrible turn, this pattern conti.nues. First, as a slave at Potiphar’s house, where he is promoted to be the master’s personal attendant. Then, in prison, where he is given extra authority and responsibility.

 

God is with Joseph. Therefore, others notice Joseph.

That’s what happens when the cupbearer and the baker land in prison in Genesis 40. They have dreams that disturb them, and it turns out Joseph is able to interpret them.

In this part of the story the dreams and the interpretation of dreams get all the attention. But I think there is another key point: the reason the dreams come up at all.

“When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” – Gen 40:6-7

Joseph is at perhaps the lowest point of his life. After working his way up at Potiphar’s house, he is thrown into prison. He has done nothing wrong. He has every reason to feel sorry for himself. Yet, in the midst of his own pain, Joseph is still able to see the pain of others.

I find this to be challenging. When I am at low and difficult points, my reaction is often to become self-focused. I think about what I need to do to survive the struggle. I ask God why he is doing this to me. I cry. I feel frustrated. I focus on me, myself, and I.

Like someone walking around with a mirror in front of my face, I become blinded to the reality of what is going on around me. I go into social situations wondering who will be my friend, and miss seeing the person who needs me to be theirs. I go into parenting situations hoping my kids won’t add to my stress level that day, and miss seeing the ways they need me to meet their needs.

Joseph shows me an example of someone whose eyes have a wider focus. Perhaps because God is with him, he is able to look at the situation through God’s eyes. Through God’s eyes, Joseph can still see and feel sorrow for his own pain. But, he can see that pain in the context of the world around him.

God is with Joseph. Therefore, Joseph notices others.

God is with me. Who does he want me to notice?

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where does my help come from?

Gros Piton I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. - Psalm 121:1-2

I've always loved Psalm 121. It's a simple reminder that God is sovereign and He loves me.

One of the best applications of that Psalm was a message I listened to from Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. It was a part of a great series they did on "Christian Atheism"- ways that our belief in God doesn't show through our lives.

I began listening to this message thinking I didn't worry as much as I used to- that I really had this one under control. Then the speaker talked about trying to control worry with things like workaholism or perfectionism.

Oh. He got me there.

Definitely worth a listen.

I Believe in God, but I Still Worry a Lot by John Ortberg.

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