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Whose Day Is It?

No, the question is not what day is it? Everyone who has had a foggy brain has asked that one.

Whose day is it? That’s a very different question. To whom does your day belong? Is it yours, or does God hold possession of it?

I left the pastorate in the fall of 2018 and had begun serving as a Hospice Chaplain in Longview, Washington, in the southwest corner of the state. My thirty-minute commute to work from our home in Vancouver concluded when I arrived at the employee parking lot. In those first months in this new role, I would regularly turn off the engine but remain in the car.

Thinking. Thanking. Praying.

The job description of a Hospice Chaplain is easily summarized: meet regularly with individuals who have received a terminal diagnosis, seeking to bring comfort and companionship to them as well as to their loved ones. People will not find their spirits at peace if I toss them some pious platitudes. Their bodies may be wearing down, but their authenticity meters are working just fine.

And so I prayed: Speak through me today, God. You love every person I will meet, and you know what they need more than I do. Help me to speak a word from you to them.

How will I react to the inevitable changes in my schedule that will occur? Will I fight against the flow and changes to keep my plans in place? Or is it possible that God can be a better architect of my time, and the reworking of my agenda is from him?

And so I prayed: Help me to listen for and to trust the gentle promptings of the Spirit, responding well to the delays and to the developments. Direct my day as you see the big picture.

What am I doing with my time? Am I just earning a paycheck until I’m old enough to retire? Or will I choose to live into the crazy wonderful idea that every day God is drawing people unto himself, and I can be part of that process. Right now. Today. Every day.

Over the course of a few weeks a pattern developed in my prayers which remains with me to this day. (I’d love to tell you I say it every day, but your authenticity meter is on).

May this be your day.

May I live your way.

May I say what you want me to say.

May I be a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

This is not just a recommended morning prayer for hospice chaplains. Returning to the original question, whose day is it?

If you’re in charge of your calendar, then good luck with that. Your attempts to wrestle the hours of your day into submission in accordance with your plans, will inevitably lead to frustration and to disappointment – for you and for the people with whom you live, work, and interact.

But maybe you’re not so much driven as you are drifting. Our devices can seem so relaxing, letting storylines and sports and social media entertain us and direct our thoughts. But this is just a subtle form of surrender, giving up our minds and our days to a very impersonal master.

There is another way to live. A very different way.

Jesus once said to a group of people who had some mistaken perceptions of God: “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” (John 5:17) Nothing has changed. Jesus didn’t take a two-thousand-year break after the resurrection. By his Spirit, he’s actively involved in our world. In your world. And he’s always looking for people to work in and through.

Think I’m overstating this? Here’s Paul’s guidance on this matter.

In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. 2 Timothy 2:20-21 NIV

Do you realize how remarkable this is? You and I are invited to be in partnership with God: guiding and providing, comforting and consoling. Imagine that! He opens the cupboards of his kingdom for that special container or device and selects you.

Giving your day over to God – being useful to him – reveals previously un-explored possibilities. It changes your identity, and gives you a purpose, which is exactly what Jesus wants you to have. You’re not just one speck among the six billion people breathing the earth’s air; you can see yourself as one of God’s vessels, learning how to uniquely dispense all the kindness and grace and blessings that you have been given.

And it all begins as you say yes to God on this day. Any day. Every day.

Open your heart, your hands, and your life to receive his light and his love, and then pass it on to others. Awesome. Life-changing. Full of hope and meaning.

Whose day is it?

May this be your day.

May I live your way.

May I say what you want me to say.

May I be a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. *

Benediction of Blessing

May you grow in your understanding of the profound truth that you are not your own; you are precious to God and have been bought with a price. **

May this truth give you great joy and transform your very existence.

May you see yourself as a vessel for God to use for His purposes, as he sees fit according to his wisdom and his providence.

* This portion of the prayer comes from Isaiah 61:3, one of the most foundational verses for a follower of Jesus.

** I Corinthians 6:19-20


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