Today is a Good Day * Advent Devotional

photo-1478980236323-01c287f81aedMy brother-in-law Jared Bangs is a fiery redheaded Baptist pastor with a killer sense of humor and four beautiful kids. He visited us in southern California a couple of Aprils ago, and our neighbors found him swimming in our condo complex’s frigid, unheated pool.

“What’s wrong with him?” they asked.

“He’s from Minnesota,” I replied.

Our three-year-old is in the phase where everything in the future, regardless of distance, is tomorrow. Likewise, whatever has already happened, no matter how long ago, is yesterday. There’s simply no convincing him otherwise.

“Dad, are we going hunting tomorrow?”

“No, Hudson, we can’t go until Friday. That’s three more days.”

“Okay, dad. Tomorrow.”

“Couple more days, son. Don’t worry.”

“I Knnnooooowww, Dad. Tomorrow.”

“Okay, you’re right. Tomorrow.

“Dad, remember yesterday, when we went to Grandma and Grandpa’s and there was a thunderstorm. And it made all the lights go off, and it was a blackout.”

“Oh, you mean last summer, when you stayed at Grandma and Grandpa’s and the power went out”

“Yah, yesterday, remember, Dad? Dad!”

“Yes, Hudson, I remember.” Sigh.

Then, the other day, in the rich tradition of Calvin’s dad from the timeless Bill Watterson comics, I threw a confounding existential twist into one of these conversations:

“Dad, what day is it today?”

“It’s yesterday.”

“No, what day is it today?”

“I’m serious. Today is tomorrow’s yesterday. When tomorrow comes, today will be yesterday.”

Blink. “…..Oh… Let’s go eat snow, Dad.”

This is priceless fatherhood stuff.

And while this brief existential observation about the passage of time was certainly lost on our three-year-old, it wasn’t lost on me. As most people beyond childhood can attest, there comes a point in growing up where time starts to race. Our todays too quickly becomes yesterday.

As a kid, the distance between Dec. 26th and next Christmas is an eternity. But now, the Christmases come and go, and we hardly seem to catch our breath between one season and the next. Life is always flying past us, and because the moments are always too soon gone, we are inevitably looking forward to what’s next.

The present is brief and fleeting (and often underwhelming), but we can always set our eyes on tomorrow.

“Oh, I can’t wait until…”

our next vacation.

our kids are in school and we can have some time to ourselves.

she’s old enough to drive.

I catch that break at work.

we finish our education.

the kids are grown.

the snow comes.

the snow melts.

we leave this place.

things slow down.

Today is quick and weak. But there’s always tomorrow. And then, these words:

Isaiah 30:16-17 (NIV)

You said, “No, we will flee on swift horses.”

Therefore you will flee!

You said, “We will ride off on swift horses.”

Therefore, your pursuers will be swift.

When I read, We will ride off on swift horses, therefore your pursuers will be swift, I’m struck by the thought, “What am I running for? What am I trying to escape?”

In the preceding verses, the Sovereign Lord says, “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”

Instead, we run. We run through life and we run instead of rest and we rush so that today is always yesterday. And the Sovereign Lord says, “Stop running!” 

Today my wife is 38 weeks pregnant with our fourth child.

Today our kids are young, still dependent on us for everything.

Today it is cold outside, with deep snow on the ground.

Today we live in a small town, pastoring a small church.

Today is a good day. Tomorrow will be good too, and the day after that. There’s plenty to look forward to. But today is a good day.

The Sovereign Lord says there’s no sense running when we can simply have His rest. So let’s do that. Tomorrow can wait. Today is a good day.

How are you savoring what God has set before you today?

11856361_10100606796427529_3824095410994807408_o Jared Bangs pastors in Cook, Minnesota with his wife, Caitlyn and his four kids. He’s a Bethel Seminary graduate, a thoughtful theologian, and a former football player who’s never met a board game, blizzard, or dill pickle he didn’t like.

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