This is the day that the Lord has made.
This day? Are you sure? Maybe last Sunday, when I was sitting in church safely insulated from the outside world, singing hymns about heaven and basking in the presence of God. But today the pipes are leaking, the rent is overdue, the car is in the shop, and the children are cranky and uncooperative.
Yet I know it's true. God made this day. And He is a careful craftsman, meticulous and exacting in His work.
God doesn't churn out days from a factory in heaven. He isn't into mass production. Like snowflakes and people, no two days are the same. Today did not roll off the assembly line as number 192 in the 2006 series. God fashioned this day with its own distinctive characteristics.
I know, scientifically speaking, today is a product of the earth spinning on its axis, with my particular geographic location illuminated by the sun's rays for a period of 12 hours or so before passing into darkness again. But that changes nothing. I know who hung the sun and earth in their places, measured out the distance between them, and set the speed and direction of their movements. And however long ago He did that, He did it with this day in mind, intentionally setting up the conditions for its existence.
A consummate artist, God continually plays variations on a theme. He balances unity and diversity, regularity and innovation, in an endless progression in which the old gives birth to the new. And so this year is like last year, but different; today is like yesterday, but different.
"While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease" (Genesis 8:22). The patterns repeat, but never exactly. Surprise is part of the dance. Subatomic particles move regularly, but unpredictably, and mysteriously. God is always faithful, but never predictable. He keeps His promises, but in strange and unforeseen ways.
So what about today? It will have enough continuity with the past to enable me to function. Gravity won't change its strength, or light its speed. All my memories are not likely to suddenly prove false. But much of what the day holds will be unexpected, beyond my ability to forecast or control.
So here it is, another day. I did nothing to deserve it. I just woke up this morning, and there it was. I may have expected it to be there, but I had no right to. Just like Christmas morning, I got up to find a present waiting for me, a brand new day.
Yes, today is a gift. And it has my name on the tag. This present from God has been custom-made for me. God has filled it with blessings, some obvious and some in disguise. Its difficulties and challenges are tailored to fit my size. It may not be exactly what I asked for, but it is exactly what I need.
This day comes equipped with a set of fresh opportunities. In its joys and pleasures, I can show my gratitude to God. In its trials and temptations, I can prove my faithfulness to God. In its pains and hardships, I can demonstrate my trust in God. In whatever form, the day's events will bring opportunities for service to God and others, and chances to exhibit the virtues of faith, hope, and love.
Best of all, God Himself will meet me today. It may be in the old and familiar routine, or it may be in a totally new and unexpected experience, but God has surely planned a rendezvous for us sometime, somewhere. I may hear His voice when I answer the next phone call. That may be His hand knocking on my door, and not just an unwelcome visitor interrupting my busy afternoon.
God has been found lurking in a burning bush, lying in a manger, even hanging on a cross. Given His track record, He might just show up anywhere. This very day, the circumstances of any given moment could suddenly facilitate a sacramental encounter with the divine. That makes this a special day, indeed.
Here it is, this day God has made for me. For all I know, it could be my last. What to do then? I will rejoice and be glad in it.
-Russell Board is a missionary in Japan.