Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Life is a wonderful gift and yet without question sometimes it is hard, trying, challenging, and difficult. Because of that, sometimes we give in. We feel burned out, depressed, and gloomy. And sometimes this ‘down and out feeling’ comes without warning.
A harsh word from our boss, a disappointment at work, a financial concern, the intense feeling that we have disappointed someone—or a real tragedy. All of these and more cause us to feel depressed. Modern medicine spends a lot of time, energy, and effort helping people to fight off the blues. But even with all the effective help and resources available, still many people turn to alcohol to drown their sorrows or drugs to escape them.
I’m talking again about the value of today because the Bible says, “This day belongs to the Lord. Let’s celebrate and be glad today” (Psalm 118:24)
Make Today Count
In his book The Positive Principle Today, Norman Vincent Peale recounts the story of Orville Kelly, a newspaperman from Iowa, who went to the hospital at the age of 43 for an examination and was told he had terminal cancer. Of course, he was stunned by this devastating news, as was his wife, Wanda. After further hospital tests, the doctors told Orville Kelly that he had from six months to three years to live. Friends avoided discussing the matter with Orville and Wanda, simply advising them, “Don’t think about it,” and then quickly changing the subject.
Communication almost stopped. Wanda wanted to say something positive and hopeful; and Orville wanted to reassure her. But they couldn’t find the words; so they remained silent. Orville Kelly was put on a program of chemotherapy, and the long drive to and from the hospital was a painful, silent journey. Finally, one day Orville said, “Let’s talk about it…I’m going to die from cancer but I’m not dead yet. So let’s start enjoying life again.” A short time later, a fresh, new, and exciting idea came to Orville Kelly; and he said, “I will accept each day not as another day closer to death, but as another day of life. I accept each day as a gift from God to be appreciated, enjoyed, and lived to its fullest.” And he decided to form a new program called MTC—Make Today Count! After all, Orville said, “We are all ‘terminal’ in a sense.”
Orville Kelly chose to see every day as a special and gracious gift from God. And that is precisely what he went on to do. Though sentenced to death by a terminal illness, Orville Kelly actually became more alive by making each day count. If you and I could say that at the beginning of each day and really mean it, it would change our lives: This is the day that the Lord has made and given to me as a gracious gift; I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be thankful for it. I once saw a bumper-sticker that says it well: Today is God’s gift to us. That’s why it’s called ‘the present’. Well, today is God’s day. He has given it to us, and we should see it as a special gift and make it count.
The Awareness Test
We can make each day count by saying, Today, I will be sensitive to what is happening around me. That is to say, I will be aware of what I am seeing, hearing, and feeling. I will be sensitive to the wonders of God’s world. Sadly, many people shut the world out every day. So many different interest groups, marketing experts, and commercial products scream at us and try to win our attention, our loyalty, our support, and our money. We are so pushed and pulled, so inundated that we stonewall the world out and shut our senses down. Many people move relentlessly through life like robots—unfeeling, untouched, uninspired, and unaware. We become so insensitive, so unaware of what is happening around us. We often shut down our senses and wall out the world.
What were the last five things you sensed?
I once saw an ‘Awareness Test’ in a magazine that had five simple questions about our five basic senses. Namely, the test asked: What were the last five sounds you heard? What were the last five sights you saw? What were the last five surfaces you touched? What were the last five fragrances you smelled? What were the last five things you tasted? Could you answer those questions right now?
Taking all of this in, I remembered the words of the psalmist: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it!” Do you remember a remarkable woman by the name of Helen Keller? Helen Keller was blind but spiritually she had 20/20 vision. She once said,
I have walked with people whose eyes are full of light, but who see nothing in wood, sea, or sky, nothing in city streets, nothing in books…It were better far to sail forever in the night of blindness, with sense and feeling and mind, than to be thus content with the mere act of seeing.
In an effort to make every day count, it might be a good idea to begin each day with a prayer by saying, Lord, today I will be sensitive to what is happening around me.
(To be continued in Today Is God’s Gift for You – Part 3)