Friday, February 22, 2013

How to Have a "Good News Day" - Part 1

Photo by Marcelo Terraza

How to Have a “Good News” Day
Part 1

Laying the Foundation

It’s a bad habit of mine to expend a lot of time and make a lot of compromises in order to get what I call a “good day.”  You know the kind of day I’m talking about … all pleasantness, few responsibilities (at least, few that I can’t ignore), and plenty of enjoyable things to do.  Plus, of course, having everyone around me cooperate with my selfish plans.


As you can imagine, my “good day” plans get smashed rather often.  And I tend to not be pleased about it.

What’s the solution?  Should I struggle to get more control over those around me, so I can force my plans on them?  But what about people and circumstances I can’t control?

Maybe I should just give up in cynical despair.  If I can’t give myself a good day, and God doesn’t seem to be bending over backwards to make life a bed of roses for me, what’s there to hope for?

Ghastly, isn’t it?  Yet I’d have to say that most of my adult life has swung between those two options.  Godless, self-centered, unloving, miserable options.  Sure, the ugliness has slowly gotten less pronounced as God has worked on my heart these past few years, but a lot of this nonsense has remained in my heart.

But, just within the past few days, I’ve been getting acquainted with an exciting new option.

What if I trade in my “plans for a good day,” not taking cynicism in exchange, but rather choosing instead to make plans for a “Good News day?”

What is a Good News Day?

If you’ve spent much time around Christianity, you probably know that the word “Gospel” is taken from the Greek for “Good News.”  And the more I learn about the Gospel and how it relates not just to salvation but to everyday life, the more I realize that I need to aim for Good News Days every day.

Good days, by my selfish definition, are often impossible.  Please bear with me as I explain...not for the sake of “complaining about my problems,” but just so that you, dear reader, won’t think I’m talking to you from my castle in the sky.  

My day-to-day life is complicated by such family funzies as Asperger’s Syndrome, full-blown autism, bipolar disorder, the teenage hormones of three boys, and all the ordinary challenges of family life.  One of my teens has been in a really bad state of rebellion lately, and has been getting in lots of trouble at school.  My husband’s job requires lots of odd hours on phone conferences with people halfway around the world, and frequent trips that last for weeks at a time.

To top it off, I deal with chronic back pain and occasionally recurring cardiac pain (despite being on daily cardiac meds since a heart attack in 2004).  Years and years of severe internal problems finally culminated in major surgery in November of 2011, which (thank the Lord) cleared up a lot of problems, but some pain still recurs.

So no, no ivory tower here.   And few entirely “good” days.

But every day could have been a Good News day, if I had only known.  Lately I’ve been having them.  And I know I always can have them.  Not because I’ve become an overnight expert in some divine secret, but because God gives a continuing supply of the good news freely to anyone who understands and believes in its simplicity.

A Good News Day is a day when the Gospel shapes my beliefs, my hopes, my plans, my actions, my interactions, and how I deal with sins and failures (both my own sins and those of others that impact me).

I’m finding that Good News days can be full of bad things, painful things, disappointing things...even failure.  And yet, at the end when I look back at them, they’ve lost their sting.  What once would have beaten me down no longer has that kind of power.  (Which, now that I think about it, is an answer to my regular prayer that I wrote about here, based on 2 Cor. 4:8-11.  Thank You, Lord!)

Have I become a stronger person?  No, not really.  I’ve just found the inexhaustible power of the Good News.

How have I found it?  Well, for years I’ve been steeping myself in excellent books like Future Grace, Holiness By Grace, Transforming Grace, Because He Loves Me, Give Them Grace, and many more.  (Please get these books and savor them if you can!)  The glorious truths in these books have gone a long way towards helping me change my hindsight.  They have helped to heal many of my hurts, by teaching me to look back on them through the lens of Gospel truth.  This is true for long-ago hurts and hurts from just a moment ago.

But that is only half of what they were designed to teach me.  And because I only got that half, the retrospective half, I still lacked a lot of Gospel power.

I still have tended to PLAN and HOPE for “good days” (as selfishly defined), while only applying the Gospel to comfort myself if the “good day” didn’t happen.  

Without meaning to, I had lumped Gospel truth into the category of “consolation prize.”  I’d hoped to get the million bucks, and I’d tried my best, but I’d lost.  So I would gratefully (and a little ruefully) accept the parting gifts instead.  They were better than nothing.

Oh, how tragic it is when we fail to see the lavish gifts we’ve been given as the treasures they really are!

It’s time to start hoping and planning for Good News Days.  Such days are not second best, they are what it’s all about.  They are the days of gold, silver and precious stones that will survive the test of God’s purifying fire (1 Co. 3:11-15).

Let me say it again:

A Good News Day is a day when the Gospel shapes my beliefs, my hopes, my plans, my actions, my interactions, and how I deal with sins and failures (both my own sins and those of others that impact me).

In future entries we’ll look at how we can plan and hope for such days, how we can live them, and what they might look like.  

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