"What a difference a day makes"


Just one day - be it a lousy one or a great one - can make so much difference. It can affect not only our mood for those few hours, but leave its mark for days, weeks, months or even years. Every year, Christians all around the world celebrate one day that is still influencing lives 2000 years later: Easter, the resurrection of Christ. One day changed not only the mood of a few Jews from despair and disappointment to hope and rejoicing, but the whole course of history. Overnight, Jesus went from being dead to fully alive again. In the space of 24 hours, the power of death was undermined and Jesus' claims were vindicated. It is a day whose full significance is still not fully understood - scholars, people of faith and those who dismiss Christianity have all been wrestling to understand, explain and come to terms with the stories that day has generated.

Just a few weeks later in the church calendar, we mark the celebration of another momentous day. At Pentecost we remember the day that the Spirit was sent in a special way to empower, guide and be present with the followers of Jesus. This day transformed a timid bunch into powerful characters who would carry the story of Jesus to thousands. Understanding, clarity and the ability to carry out tasks they couldn't have imagined themselves doing before suddenly broke through in an unforgettable day.

But, life isn't really made up of one day of incredible life-changing experiences after another, is it? Aren't such days the exception? What difference can a day, an apparently boring old run-of-the-mill day, possibly make to you or others? Perhaps we underestimate the significance of the passing of another 24 hours and what we have done. Maybe, this leads us to expect little and attempt little the next day and the day after that. But, as this simple repeating pattern itself shows, each day can have an impact on the next, whether for good or ill.

Each day is made up of a variety of choices - what to eat, whether to watch TV, which person to talk to, whether to tell the truth, and many others. Today, for example, you might have the choice whether to encourage someone or not. What does it matter? Someone else might do it, you might think that your "constructive criticism" is enough or it may just feel like one task too many. But, what if that person is depressed or losing self-confidence? One nice word from you might be enough to save them from days of a downward spiral into sadness and despair. Also, suppose you decide each day for a week not to bother with encouraging others deliberately, for whatever reason. Each day that you make that choice (no matter how thought-through) you are developing a deeper habit. The choices we make have the power to shape who we will become and the lives of others. One choice pattern, embedded through one "normal", apparently insignificant day after another has power to affect you, others and the world we live in. What about the many hundreds of decisions made on a "normal" day, then? Over years, what might they achieve?

Each day, we exert an influence on ourselves and others through what we say and do or through what we chose not to say or do. This influence can make us more like Christ, or less. It can help others see God, or it can obscure Him from view. There is no such thing as an insignificant day. Your presence, the fact that you are still alive, means that you are caught up in this web of influence. Every day also has the potential to be truly incredible. God is with us and at work in us, so we never know what might happen. Perhaps one day - maybe even today or tomorrow - you'll be involved in something that shapes people's lives on a scale you had never imagined.

© Joe Lenton, May 2012