Great Day Every Day: Navigating Life's Challenges with Promise and Purpose
by Max Lucado
Every Day Deserves a Chance “I tell you in solemn truth,” replied Jesus, “that this very day you shall be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43 wey)
Sand soft to the feet, breeze cool on the skin. An apron of Pacific turquoise precedes one of deeper blue. Waves lap and slap. Birds whistle and coo. Islands loom on the horizon. Palm trees sway against the sky.
I found myself relishing the morning as I was writing this book. What easier way to have a great day every day, I mused, than starting it right here? I leaned back into a beach hair, interlaced my fingers behind my head, and closed my eyes.
That’s when a bird chose my chest for target practice. No warning. No sirens. No Bombs away!” Just plop.
I looked up just in time to see a seagull giving high feathers to his bird buddies on the branch. Yuck. I poured water on my shirt three times. I moved to a chair away from the trees. I did all I could to regain the magic of the morning, but I couldn’t get my mind off the bird flyby.
It should have been easy. Waves still rolled. Clouds still floated. The ocean lost no blue; the sand lost no white. Islands still beckoned, and wind still whispered. But I couldn’t quit thinking about the seagull grenade.
Birds have a way of messing things up, don’t they? Count on it: into every day a bird will plop.
Traffic will snarl.
Airports will close.
Friends will forget.
Spouses will complain.
And lines. Oh, the lines. Deadlines, long lines, receding hairlines, luggage-losing airlines, nauseating pickup lines, wrinkle lines, unemployment lines, and those ever-elusive ottom lines.
And what of those days of double shadows? Those days when hope is Hindenberged by crisis? You never leave the hospital bed or wheelchair. You wake up and bed down in the same prison cell or war zone. The cemetery dirt is still fresh, the pink slip still folded in your pocket, the other side of the bed still empty . . . who has a good day on these days?
Most don’t . . . but couldn’t we try? Such days warrant an opportunity. A shot. A tryout. An audition. A swing at the plate. Doesn’t every day deserve a chance to be a good day?
After all, “this is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24 nkjv). The first word in the verse leaves us scratching our heads. “This is the day the Lord has made”? Perhaps holidays are the days the Lord has made. Wedding days are the days the Lord has made. Easter Sundays . . . super-sale Saturdays . . . vacation days . . . the first days of hunting season—these are the days the Lord has made. But “this
is the day”?
“This is the day” includes every day. Divorce days, final exam days, surgery days, tax days. Sending- your- firstborn off- to-college days.
That last one sucked the starch out of my shirt. Surprisingly so. We packed Jenna’s stuff, loaded up her car, and left life as we’d known it for eighteen years. A chapter was losing. One less plate on the table, voice in the house, and child beneath the roof. The day was necessary. The day was planned. But the day undid me.
I was a mess. I drove away from the gas station with the nozzle still in my tank, yanking the hose right off the pump. Got lost in a one-intersection town. We drove; I moped. We unpacked; I swallowed throat lumps. We filled the dorm room; I plotted to kidnap my own daughter and take her home where she belongs. Did someone store my chest in dry ice? Then I saw the verse. Some angel had tacked it to a dormitory bulletin board.
This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.
I stopped, stared, and let the words sink in. God made this day, ordained this hard hour, designed the details of this wrenching moment. He isn’t on holiday. He still holds the conductor’s baton, sits in the cockpit, and occupies the universe’s only throne. Each day emerges from God’s drawing room. Including this one.
So I decided to give the day a chance, change my view, and imitate the resolve of the psalmist: “I will rejoice and be glad in it.”
Oops, another word we’d like to edit: in. Perhaps we could swap it for after? We’ll be glad after the day. Or through. We’ll be glad to get through the day. Over would suffice. I’ll rejoice when this day is over.
But rejoice in it? God invites us to. As Paul rejoiced in prison; David wrote psalms in the wilderness; Jonah prayed in the fish belly; Paul and Silas sang in jail; Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego remained resolute in the fiery furnace; John saw heaven in his exile; and Jesus prayed in his garden of pain . . . Could we rejoice smack-dab in the midst of this day?
Imagine the difference if we could.
Suppose neck deep in a “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day,”1 you resolve to give it a chance. You choose not to drink or work or worry it away but give it a fair shake. You trust more.
Stress less. Amplify gratitude. Mute grumbling. And what do you
know? Before long the day is done and surprisingly decent.
So decent, in fact, that you resolve to give the next day the
same fighting chance. It arrives with its hang-ups and bang-ups,
bird drops and shirt stains, but by and large, by golly, giving the
day a chance works! You do the same the next day and the next.
Days become a week. Weeks become months. Months become
years of good days.
In such a fashion good lives are built. One good day at a time. An hour is too short, a year too long. Days are the bite-size portions of life, the God-designed segments of life management.
Eighty-four thousand heartbeats.
One thousand four hundred and forty minutes.
A complete rotation of the earth.
A circle of the sundial.
Two dozen flips of the hourglass.
Both a sunrise and a sunset.
A brand-spanking-new, unsoiled, untouched, uncharted, and unused day!
A gift of twenty-four unlived, unexplored hours.
And if you can stack one good day on another and another, you will link together a good life.
But here’s what you need to keep in mind.
You no longer have yesterday. It slipped away as you slept. It is gone. You’ll more easily retrieve a puff of smoke. You can’t change, alter, or improve it. Sorry, no mulligans allowed. Hourglass sand won’t flow upward. The second hand of the clock refuses to tick
backward. The monthly calendar reads left to right, not right to left. You no longer have yesterday.
You do not yet have tomorrow. Unless you accelerate the orbit of the earth or convince the sun to rise twice before it sets once, you can’t live tomorrow today. You can’t spend tomorrow’s money, celebrate tomorrow’s achievements, or resolve tomorrow’s riddles.
You have only today. This is the day the Lord has made.
Live in it. You must be present to win. Don’t heavy today with yesterday’s regrets or acidize it with tomorrow’s troubles. But don’t we tend to do so?
We do to our day what I did to a bike ride. My friend and Iwent on an extended hill-country trek. A few minutes into the trip I began to tire. Within a half hour my thighs ached and my lungs heaved like a beached whale. I could scarcely pump the pedals.
I’m no Tour de France contender, but neither am I a newcomer, yet I felt like one. After forty-five minutes I had to dismount and catch my breath. That’s when my partner spotted the problem. Both rear brakes were rubbing my back tire! Rubber grips contested
every pedal stroke. The ride was destined to be a tough one.
Don’t we do the same? Guilt presses on one side. Dread drags the other. No wonder we weary so. We sabotage our day, wiring it for disaster, lugging along yesterday’s troubles, downloading tomorrow’s struggles. Remorse over the past, anxiety over the future. We aren’t giving the day a chance.
How can we? What can we do? Here’s my proposal: consult Jesus. The Ancient of Days has something to say about our days. He doesn’t use the term day very often in Scripture. But the fewtimes he does use it provide a delightful formula for upgradingeach of ours to blue-ribbon status.
Saturate your day in his grace.
Entrust your day to his oversight.
“Give us day by day our daily bread.” (Luke 11:3 nkjv)
Accept his direction.
“If any of you want to be my followers, you mustforget about yourself. You must take up your cross each day and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 cev)
Grace. Oversight. Direction.
Fill your day with God. Give the day a chance. Choose to make it great. And while you are at it, keep an eye out for the seagullwith the silly grin.