“Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before.”
I hate that song. Not because it doesn’t express some truth, but because of what it obscures. A generation raised on that kind of “Zippity Doo Dah” theology will abandon the faith en masse once the real world exposes the depth its naivete. Every day with Jesus is not sweeter than the day before. Some days are sweet, and some days are wretched and miserable.
Last year a semi-elderly couple joined my church. I love them to death. They have been faithful church members and have shown me strong support in prayer and in encouragement. Shortly after they joined, the husband told me he felt like God led him to our church in part so that he could show me the real world. In the last year, I have seen it.
I saw it tonight.
I saw it through a video phone in a local jail where a man whom I baptized back in March sat, explaining to me why he was not to blame for his predicament and telling me he was done with his pregnant wife. There’s a lot more that I could say, but I’ll leave it at that.
In ministry, we don’t get to say, “I didn’t sign up for this.” We don’t get to say that because we did sign up for it. We didn’t sign up for “Mr. Blue Bird’s on my shoulder” twenty-four seven. We signed up for deathbeds and broken marriages and betrayals and jail visits and looking at human depravity up close and seeing reflections of ourselves. We signed up for disappointment and despondency and emotional exhaustion and loneliness.
We signed up for the cross.
The very message we proclaim is that somewhere in all of the blood, sweat, dirt, pain, and messiness of the cross, love happens. When you’re walking with a slab of wood on your back to the place of execution, every day is not sweeter than the day before. But radical love has a price. We signed up for that. We said we were willing to pay that price. Why, then, do we whine and complain when we are asked to pay it? It is much better to look past the shame of the cross to the hope that is to come and then to let ourselves be nailed up there with Jesus for the joy set before us (Hebrews 12:1-2).
So instead of singing “Every day with Jesus is sweeter than the day before,” I much prefer the words of a Third Day song:
It’s all right, it’s okay, I won’t worry about tomorrow, for it brings me one more day closer than I was to You.
Maybe, at the end of some days, there’s only one positive thing to say: this day brought me one more day closer to Heaven, closer to the Savior who looked at the mess I had made and loved me nonetheless. As long as I can say that, I know I’ll be all right.