By Afton Rorvik and Marie Allison–
What a difference a day made
Twenty-four little hours
Brought the sun and the flowers
Where there used to be rain
Are you hearing the melody? Men and women from every generation since 1934 have discovered this romantic blues song: “What a Difference a Day Makes.”
The timeless tune reaches into the depth of our being and pulls out the longing we all have to be loved and to experience a love that fills us completely.
Unfortunately, most of us have observed that the emotions of love come and go. Even the most caring of people will love us with an imperfect love. Fortunately, there is a love that lasts. It is this perfect love that human love points to. It is the unfailing, never changing love of God.
The Christian message at its heart is this: God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you. Knowing that deep in your being changes everything.
When you enter a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ your life becomes different. All of life’s troubles don’t disappear, but they do take on new meaning. You begin seeing the purpose in them, and you have the strength to endure them. Even when the skies of life look gray, you have a sustaining hope and a sense of God’s presence.
What a difference a day makes. Whether you are young or old, whether your decision to come to Christ is instantaneous or occurs gradually over time, your response to God’s love is a game changer.
So what is different? What changes?
You Are Rescued
Imagine going for a swim in the ocean and getting caught in a deadly undertow. You would certainly welcome the rescue of a watchful lifeguard, right? Despite any knowledge, you have of the ocean or any amazing swimming skill or toned, trained muscles, you have no ability to help yourself from the undertow. The presence of that lifeguard means everything.
The Bible tells us that our sins are like a deadly undertow. They kill us spiritually. Jesus is like the lifeguard who rescues us from spiritual death. (This is what Christians refer to as being “saved.” Jesus who is God rescued us from spiritual death.)
So, what is sin? Most of us can identify the big ones: murder, stealing, adultery, but there are more.
Sin is any wrong thought, word, or deed that displeases God and deserves blame. Sin is also, any right thought, word or deed that in its absence, displeases God and deserves blame.
A vital part of our journey to Christ involves looking at some bits of our lives that don’t look so pretty. Jesus, the only holy, perfect One, has this effect on those who are seeking to follow him. As we stand in his holy, perfect presence, we suddenly begin to see our warts, imperfections–our sins.
The Bible expresses it well when it says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Before God gave us eyes to see our sins, we may have been comparing ourselves to other people and feeling pretty good, but when we compare ourselves to God, we see that we fall terribly short.
There is more…the Bible tells us that the wages, the payment, the result of our sin is spiritual death (Romans 6:23a).
Have you ever had a car speed by you at breakneck speed? Maybe you muttered to yourself, “I hope that guy gets a ticket.” We have a sense that wrong should be penalized. To keep everyone safe, bad behavior should have consequences.
When we are the ones speeding we hope we don’t get caught, don’t we? And if we do get caught we search for an excuse as to why we don’t deserve a ticket. When we get the ticket we complain that it was unfair.
God is fair. He says everyone who does wrong and does not do right is held to account.
Wow, that is sobering.
Without acknowledging this reality, however, the message of Christ does not make sense. Jesus, the lifeguard in our analogy, did not jump in the water to save us from a small wave splashing around our ankles. He saved us from spiritual death. Why? Because he loves us. He loves you.
Let’s read Romans 6:23 in its entirety.
The wages of sin is death, BUT the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23).
God came in the person of Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life and gave himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins. He took our sins upon himself and paid the penalty for them on the cross.
The Biblical story of the crucifixion touches us deeply because we see the length Christ went to in order to save us. He was beaten, mocked, ridiculed. He gave up the hopes and dreams of a young person. He gave up friends and family. But even more than all this–Jesus, the only Holy and perfect One, took on our sins so that he could rescue us by paying the penalty for us.
This is the Christian idea of mercy. Mercy is when we are not given the penalty that we deserve. An accompanying truth is Grace. Grace is God’s unearned, undeserved favor. God doesn’t love you because of any good works you have done. He just loves you!
In his mercy, God saved us from something bad–sin and spiritual death. In his grace, he saved us to something good–freedom from guilt, life with him on earth, and life forever with him in heaven. (Christians refer to this as “salvation.”)
We receive God’s grace and mercy the moment we believe in Christ and ask him to come into our life by saying a prayer like this:
I am sorry for the wrong things I have done. I turn away from them now.
Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross to take the penalty for my sins. Thank you that through Jesus, I am forgiven and made clean and new.
Please come into my life. I give my life over to you and with your strength desire to give you first place in all I do.
In Jesus name, Amen
The phrase “What a Difference a Day Makes” takes on new meaning as we think about the day Christ gave up his life for us and the day we respond to that love.
Today may be that day for you.
About the authors: Afton Rorvik is a speaker and writer. Her ministry “Learning to Live Connected” equips people to experience friendship in all its richness. Marie Allison is the Director of Outreach and Connection at Faith Covenant Church. Both reside in the Western suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.