The letter I received from a man in Southwest Africa brightened my day. In spite of the violence in his homeland and serious financial problems, he’s learned the value of starting each day thankful to be alive, choosing to enjoy the beauty of the morning rather than focus on fears about what may come his way before nightfall. In doing so, he’s following the advice of Jesus who said we’re to live one day at a time (Matthew 6:34).
Millions will spoil today fretting over tomorrow, even though most of their expected tragedies will never arrive. No one has information enough about the future to worry intelligently and encouraging encounters with positive people often appear in time to turn our minds from fear to faith.
We stood looking out a lobby window into the work area of a tire store; he was a junior in high school and I an untold number of years his senior. He was watching workmen install new tires on his shiny red S-10 pickup while I waited for them to mount new ones on my old black Sable. Seizing the opportunity to share something life changing with him, I simply said: “Start every day thankful.”
I have no way of knowing what trials my S-10 acquaintance will face in the years ahead but when difficult days arrive, I hope he’ll remember our encounter of encouragement when I recommended faith for the day instead of fears of tomorrow.
Moving from the window on tire trivia to a glass door showcasing a sunny day, I found myself standing beside a thirty-something man wearing a frown.
“Great day!” I exclaimed, trying to brighten his mood.
“About time!” he growled.
“I’m the author of a book in which I open one of the chapters saying if you can rise each morning not being down about money or the weather you’re on your way to a good day,” I told him.
“I’m down about both,” he replied.
“Give me your address and I’ll send you the book,” I offered.
Scribbling his address on a sheet from a small notepad and handing it to me may have been one of the most important acts of his life.
After leaving the tire store, I stopped for gas and a newspaper, unaware that inside the station, awaited one of the strangest experiences of my life.
“What year did you graduate from high school” asked a fellow customer. And, to my surprise, when I gave my answer he burst into a series of hit songs from that era, attracting the attention of all in the station. But after the songs came a note of sadness, revealing a need of the singer for an encouraging word.
No matter how badly things look today, expect God to come through for you.
Doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.
Join me and my Southwest Africa correspondent as we start each day thanking God that we can bask in the basic blessings of the moment.
And keep watching for opportunities to brighten another person’s cloudy day.
Roger Campbell is an author, broadcaster and columnist who was a pastor for 22 years. He can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.