February 29, 2016
Not much happens on this date.
In 1644, Abel Tasman launched his second Pacific voyage (not much of note in trip #2; he found Tasmania in #1). In 1768, Polish noblemen founded the Bar Confederation. In 1892, St. Petersburg, FL was incorporated. In 2012, the Skytree tower in Tokyo was completed (currently the world’s tallest). For the most part, people don’t schedule significant events on Leap Day; maybe that’s because they don’t know how they would celebrate anniversaries in the future. It’s been 1460 days since we’ve had one of these; were you born – or, married – on February 29th? I feel your pain…
Most people grind through hours as they live out their days. Time seems to race when you’re happy or distracted… and it stands still in moments of pain or remorse. Years become increasingly troublesome as they accumulate – as containers for days – and bring closer the horizon of a lifetime, compounding the sense that we’re running out of time. Days become increasingly important to us as they speed through the hourglass of life…
Some people live outside the boundaries of time. You know who they are: appointments are obligations made in a parallel universe that they only visit, occasionally, by accident. You’ve waited for them, frequently. They always arrive with the same fanfare: “Oh! Sorry I’m late!” (note of clarity to the clueless: they aren’t really sorry; if they were, they wouldn’t do it again… but they do.)
If the watch on your wrist (Boomers/Busters) – or, the time on your phone (Millennials) – is a meaningful reminder of the sequencing of significance, you take time seriously. Days matter: years are full of them, but the days that make any year great – by comparison to the rest – are most-often the least of those in the annual box. Some days rise far above the rest in importance…
That’s a concept that spans the Scriptures. From Old to New Testaments, God highlights some days as more important than others. When Peter announced the launch of the New Covenant – in his message on the Day of Pentecost – he quoted directly from Joel, who lived about 800 years earlier: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Joel 2:28-32, quoted by Peter at Pentecost and recorded later by Luke in Acts 2:17-21).
Years are weird: they seem smaller when we see them in the past, and large as they loom in the future. Days are easier to deal with. Years are like $500 bills: you’ve never seen one; they’re too-big-to-carry. Days are like $1s; we stuff our pockets with them, and can leave one in the tip jar without feeling like we’re going broke. It only takes 500 of those to get a portrait of Wm McKinley in hand (the face on the $500 bill; 25th President; assassinated early in his second term). Make the singles significant, and you’ll end up with years that make you extraordinary.
Here’s the breakthrough thought: according to Joel and Peter – and, God – you and I are in the last days. God has provided us His Spirit in these days… and we’re getting ready for the day of the Lord, when He has scheduled the day of judgment: “Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away… Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” (Moses, in Psalm 90).
Mark Twain: “The two most important days of your life: the day you are born… and the day you find out why.”
So: what are you doing today – one of your last days – to get ready for that day?