Wednesday, December 28, 2022

One More Day

Why is it so easy for us to think that one more day doesn't matter all that much? 

Yesterday, we were talking about self-defeating prophecies and that moment when we start to think that we're never really going to be different, that we're wholly incapable of change. And if we know we're going to fail, then why not just go ahead and fail today. What difference does one more day make? What's so special about tomorrow?

And yet, the truth is that if we didn't think it mattered what day it was, we wouldn't be waiting until Sunday to change our lives. If one day is just the same as any other, if tomorrow is just today revisited, if it doesn't matter whether it's today or next week or last week or next year, then...Sunday's not all that special, either. 

But we convince ourselves every year that it is. We convince ourselves that Sunday is the day. (This year, it's Sunday. The point, of course, is January 1.) And we aren't willing to concede our defeat until at least Monday. Until we've at least given it one day. One good, full day. One special day.

So we know there is something about one more day. 

It's more than just that, though. 

This is where our own finiteness comes in. None of us knows what really happens tomorrow. None of us knows what a new day brings. We can plan and scheme and think and dream all we want, but the reality is that we just don't know what's going to happen to us thirty minutes from now, let alone twenty-four hours. We think we know. We think that tomorrow will be just like today, which is just like yesterday, but we can't know that. 

And history is full of tomorrows that are nothing like today. 

There's something like four hundred years of history between the end of Malachi and the beginning of Matthew. Four hundred years in which God is doing nothing spectacular enough, apparently, to write home about. Four hundred years without a prophet speaking. Four hundred years without a priest receiving a vision. Four hundred years of tomorrows that are just like yesterdays - of hope and anticipation and confident assurance, but...nothing new. Nothing moving. Nothing happening. 

At any point in those four hundred years, any one of the faithful could have woken up and said, "Well, God's done. He's just done. He's not doing anything new, not in my lifetime. All of His promises have failed. It's just not happening. Might as well get on with my life and start moving in a new direction, the direction I knew I was going to have to move in all along. I'm all alone in this universe, and it's time to start acting like it."

In fact, I'm betting a lot of the faithful at least toyed with the idea, let alone the number who likely really did walk away. It's who we are. It's just something about being human. 

Then, one day, everything changed. 

One day, there was nothing. One more day of silence, painful silence. One more day of unfulfilled hope. One more day of daydreaming. And then, bam! The next day, there's a baby in a manger. God speaks, and His first word is a primal cry. The next day, everything changed. 

How do you know tomorrow, just one day after you're ready to give up, is not that next day? How do you know tomorrow is not the day that everything changes for you?

Because today feels just like yesterday? 

So what? Yesterday felt just like yesterday. And the day before that. And the day before that. Yesterday only has something to say about yesterday; it can't hold a candle to tomorrow. Tomorrow has to illuminate itself. 

The point is this - it's easy for us to give up too soon. To throw in the towel too quickly. To look around and think to ourselves, gosh, today just looks an awful lot like yesterday; tomorrow must not be very different, either. 

But the testimony of human history is clear: there is a whole growing story of humanity in which tomorrow is absolutely nothing like today. Those are the days when everything changes. 

What if that day is tomorrow and you quit one day too soon? 

Behold! I am doing a new thing. 

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