Nothing but Net

For 14 straight seasons, the Kansas Jayhawks won or shared the Big Twelve season title. That means that freshmen at KU probably have no memory of when the team last did not at least tie for the championship. That’s amazing. But this year, they were merely good, finishing third. They got bumped from the NCAA tournament in the second round and no one was shocked. You see, just because it’s a KU basketball team  does not mean that it will be a contender for the national championship.

As we proceed through Psalm 118:24, it’s time to get God into the picture. You see, this isn’t just “the day.” Even though it is every hour of every day that we’re talking about, there’s more to be said about it. What day is? Or, more to the point, what is special about this day? The Lord made it.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.–Psalm 118:24

Yes, the Lord made every day just like the Lord made every human being. Does that make every day and every human being special? Well . . . yes. Yes it does.

After my father retired, he and my mother ran an antique business, buying various items and then driving them around the country to weekend shows where they met a lot of people and sold them stuff.

Toward the end of the business, they were dealing in some exceptionally nice art glass. I remember helping out at an auction that they hosted. My job was to line up the lots so that the auctioneer wouldn’t have to hunt for them when the time came. I brought one vase, about eighteen inches tall, up to the front. A few minutes later I heard it gaveled as sold at just north of $30,000. What on earth can make a hunk of glass worth $30,000? Like a great deal of what they sold, what made it valuable was who had made it. If it was made by the Louis C. Tiffany company, then it was automatically a big deal. If it was signed Tiffany, then it was an even bigger deal.

I learned to appreciate the work of these glass makers, but I also recognize that the source of a piece of work, while it might matter in the marketplace, does not guarantee that it will be a beautiful work any more than a player putting on a Jayhawks uniform becoming automatically successful.

That’s not how it is when God makes the day. God’s handiwork is good, until sin corrupts it. God’s day will be the best day that could possibly exist given the circumstances. Tiffany glass might be ugly. A Faulkner novel might be tedious. A Da Vinci painting might be lifeless. A Chipotle burrito might be less than delicious. Yes, but God’s day will be a day worth living, a swished three-pointer.


The Invisible Word

I have taken a solemn pledge to drop a word out of my vocabulary. Regardless of the need, I will no longer, after this last usage, speak or write this now-forbidden word: “cruet.” I know that you’re wondering how I will be able to function without this important word, but I assure you that I can and I will.

Of course I could get by without ever saying–oh, I almost said it–this word. Other words are not nearly so easily abandoned. Try going a day without the word “the.” And then there’s today’s next word in Psalm 118:24: “is.” The single most common verb in the English language “is” is not something we can easily work around. In the King James Version, you’ll find the verb “is” italicized here.

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

If you didn’t know it, italicized words in the KJV represent words that are not actually in the original Hebrew or Greek. Translated literally, the verse might read like this:

This the day the LORD has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.

While it sounds like old-school Tarzan, such a sentence structure worked in Hebrew. The “is” would be understood, sort of like the “You” is understood when we give commands or directions in English: (You) go down the street.

This invisible word uses the simplest of verb tenses, the present indicative. We have all sorts of verbs tenses in English. Linguists don’t even all agree about how many there are, but you probably use all of them without even thinking about it. The present indicative, however, is the starting point and used most often.

The Psalmist is not saying that this “will be” the day. It’s not “might be” or “had been” or “will have been.” This is the day that is the one God made.

Now stick with me here for a bit. This day that is God-made has twenty-four hours in it. That’s 1,440 minutes. Since every day (as we established last time) is the day that the Lord has made, then presumably every hour and every minute is the hour or minute that He made as well. Otherwise, if, for example, only the hours of 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. are the day that the Lord made, then we find ourselves having to use a different verb tense before 6:00 or after 9:00.

The faithfulness of God is a 24/seven/365 sort of thing. It’s there first thing in the morning and endures until the close of day. That’s a lot of mileage out of an invisible word that most of us wouldn’t give a second look.

This is the Day

What is the thing that brings you the most joy? A new baby? A good pizza? Waking up and realizing that you don’t have to get up yet? We all have those things, but we can also find ourselves tiptoeing through the poison ivy of depression at other stimuli. What’s a would-be happy person to do?

The secret to happiness is not to depend on those outside stimuli. Although I’m unsuccessful at times, I try to use a familiar verse from Psalms to bolster my happiness quotient.

This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.–Psalm 118:24

Over a few entries, I’d like to unpack this single verse and take it from the lyric for a number of praise songs to see what sort of complexity there might be within.

“This”–The first word of the verse, apparently innocuous, actually gets us started well. In English-teacher speak, “this” is a demonstrative pronoun. You don’t need to know that little piece of grammatical knowledge to use the word a hundred times a day without ever thinking about it. “This baby is adorable.” “I eat my pizza this way.” “This morning I don’t have to get up!”

Typically, we use “this” to indicate something close at hand. “This house” is probably the house closest to you, right? “That house” is  down the street.

So “this” is the day. We’re not talking about “that” day. We’re concerned with “this” day. Another name for it is “today.” When the Psalmist refers to “this” day, he doesn’t mean tomorrow or next Tuesday. He doesn’t mean the weekend or my birthday or Christmas. He doesn’t mean the day I retire or the day I graduate or the day I go on vacation. Any of those might be “that” day, but “this” day will always be today.

I open my eyes in the morning, still hazy from sleep. What day of the week? I’m not sure. What’s my schedule? I’m not clear yet, but it doesn’t matter. “This” day is the day that the Lord made no matter what this day holds. There’s no superscript on Psalm 118 that says “To be read on Yom Kippur or the king’s birthday.” No. It needs to be appropriate for any day–for “this” day.

So let’s go back to the top. What brings you the most joy? It should be today, “this” day.