The assignment was due on Friday. As of Wednesday everything looked good. I was proud of my son for not waiting until Thursday to get started. And then it happened. I’m still not sure how or exactly what went wrong – but part of what had already been written was accidentally deleted. Gone. The gone-for-good-not-to-be-retrieved kind of gone.
There‘s a biblical phrase, “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” I saw it first-hand. Unlike the biblical weeping and gnashing which is divinely appointed and always just, this didn’t seem fair. My offers to help were rebuffed. My calm attempts at a reasoned solution to the problem were getting nowhere. My son would not be consoled. I finally had to give him space, leave him alone and let him do whatever he needed to do in order to come to terms with what had happened.
After a few moments he sent me a text message – a surprising but helpful means of parental communication. Five terse words. “No spirit to write it.” I understood. I’d have felt the same way. When you’ve worked hard and done it once, it’s hard to do it all over again.
What is true of lost work and deleted assignments is true of our days. Some days wear us out. The rhythm and demands of a week leave us depleted. Finding the spirit to do it all over again can be a challenge.
When it comes to finding God in the everyday, the problem isn’t the everyday. The problem is that the everyday happens every day. Over and over. Same song second, third and tenth verses. We wake up on some days and sense that we don’t have the spirit to do it all over again. The every day makes it hard to find God in the everyday.
In 2 Corinthians 11 Paul rehearses a series of setbacks that have marked his ministry. What is noteworthy about these is their repetition. Paul keeps talking about Jesus, and his reward for that faithfulness is constant resistance. He was beaten five times with the whip. He was beaten three times with rods. He was shipwrecked three times. He was in danger on frequent journeys. He lives through many a sleepless night. He has often gone with out food. Over and over, time after time (2 Cor. 11:24-27).
The setbacks were relentless. But so was Paul. He wrote plenty of letters, masterpieces of spiritual counsel and encouragement. We might expect that after a while he would have sent a brief note, a text message: “No spirit to write it.”
But Paul’s spirit never wavers because the Spirit that drives him isn’t his own. Something more than noble ideas and good intentions and dogged determination sustain him. The Spirit that lives in Paul is the very life of Jesus. The Spirit of the living God. So Paul keeps at it, day after day, setback after set back, undaunted, unintimidated.
This Spirit is ours every day. God has promised to give it. Our first order of business with each new day is to pray and ask for it. What we see around us in the everyday may depend on what lives within us. God’s Spirit transforms both us and our days, each and every one of them. Every day becomes a gift, and we live it gladly (Psalm 118:24).
Gracious God, grant us the gift of your Holy Spirit that we might live every day to your glory, embracing both hardships and blessings with the strength and gratitude that come only from you, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.