When the weather is warm and I have no early appointments, I enjoy my coffee on the front porch where I read my Bible, pray, and meditate. I clearly remember such a Saturday just last month. It was Saturday, October 10, 2020. As is my habit, I regularly jot the date in the margins of my Bible readings or my devotion books. I finished the Bible reading and I jotted the date into the margin: 2020/10/10. I had a difficult thought as I noted the date: “This was a day of many naughts.” Naught is an old word for zero, nothing, zilch, nil.
Well, as we have grown fond of saying, “It’s 2020 after all.” Our expectation of this year has dwindled down to nothing, hasn’t it? So, writing a date with four zeros would elicit not much more than pessimism.
I realized I had accepted the dreariness of our time with plague, unrest, violence, fractured communities, and a loss of social closeness. What was I expecting from the day with so many zeros?
Well, on that day, I spent a lot of time preparing and recording another Bible lesson in a series I am currently teaching online for our church. I have grown so much since March with the accountability and regularity of teaching in this manner. I work on the lesson every day of the week, reflecting, thinking, mulling it over. I am like a cow chewing her cud. I hope that sweet, nourishing, spiritual milk is produced. The habit and the practice have centered me more on the Lord and His Word.
That day, we also attended the graveside service for the mother of one of our students. It was a COVID death; so sad to watch our student comfort her little brother in downpouring rain. The grave tore and wounded the earth in the same way this disease tore this family, leaving the same sort of gaping wound in them. But we shared in the ministry of presence, simply being and being there. The rain and cold and slop and wind from that tropical storm was painful, too. Being there was an antidote of comfort.
We bought groceries. Though the pandemic has changed so many things, there we stood in the aisles surrounded by abundant food. What we stood amid at the Aldi store was so much more than our starving friends in Lesotho could even imagine. Even in this present hardship, God’s common grace is clearly apparent.
We shared frozen custards. The creaminess was sweet, as was the time with my wife. After many months of changing our lifestyles and losing a lot of weight, we took slow bites, never letting our spoons get full. We wanted to stretch the custard and our time. We shared the sadness of the grave and the giggles of goofy dad jokes. That is often our fellowship of marriage.
In retrospect, was it a day of naughts? Hardly. I was surprised by joy many times. Not a giddy happiness, but a deep-down sort of bedrock joy. It was a joy upon which one can take a solid stand. There were simple pleasures shared with my most precious loved one. There was sadness but not overwhelming grief. It was a grief mingled with large amounts of hope. There was hope for salvation, hope for eternity, hope for lasting reunion, and hope for healing. My morning thoughts surfaced over and over again. The Lord joined my thoughts with a simple verse we all know from Psalms 118:24 (ESV): “This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
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God created the day that He had given me. He made it and He gifted it to me. He owned it and simply allowed me to share it. He shared it with me and I, in turn, shared it with others. That Saturday, 2020/10/10, was not an empty day. It was not a place-holder day. It was a rather normal day, usual in so many aspects. But most of all, it was a day God had made.