The Lost Day
Read 2 Samuel 11:1-5
I am sure that most of you are aware of that imaginary line that runs North to South in the Pacific called the International Dateline. When you cross that line you either move forward a day or go back a day depending upon which way you are traveling. During the course of recent history, some islands and countries in the vicinity of the International Dateline have made adjustments to their clocks and calendars to compensate for the shift of time.
During the early 1840’s the commercial interests of the Philippine Islands turned more and more away from the Spanish Americas. Trading with the Chinese mainland, the Malay peninsula, the Dutch East Indies, and Australia became increasingly important.
In order to help communication and trading with its western and southern neighbors, the secular and religious authorities of the Philippines agreed that it would be helpful to abolish being on the American day reckoning and adopt the Asian day reckoning on the calendar. This change came about in 1844 when the governor-general of the Philippines, issued a proclamation announcing that Monday, December 30, 1844, would immediately be followed by Wednesday, January 1, 1845. The day of Tuesday, December 31, 1844 would never exist as far as the calendar was concerned for the people of the Philippines. It was a lost day.
We are coming to the end of another year. Have you done things or said things this past year that you regret? Have you not done something that you should have done? I want you think for a moment about how different your life might be if you could lose a day from it. What if you could suddenly lose one day from the calendar of your life whether in this past year or in your entire life? Which day would it be?
I refer you to the Scripture passage in 2 Samuel 11:1-5 where we read bout King David that mighty man of God.
In the case of David, we read of that fateful evening where David was in Jerusalem while all of his men were out to do battle. We don’t know what prompted David to stay behind. Nevertheless he takes a walk one evening on the roof of his house. As he is walking he looks out and sees a very beautiful woman bathing. Had he not been on the roof he most likely would not have seen her. The woman was Bathsheba, wife of Uriah.
It was not enough for David to simply look, admit that she was indeed beautiful, and then go on about his business. Nor was it sufficient, as he felt lust welling up inside, to go back into his house and continue on with the day’s activities. Instead, he made a decision that day that would forever change his life. David sent his messengers to get Bathsheba and have her brought to him. King David then sinned in the act of adultery and that sin led to a series of events that were out of control.
Bathsheba became pregnant. David decided to cover up his sins by having her husband Uriah put in the front line of battle where he was killed. David then took Bathsheba to be his wife. When the child was born it died.
We can imagine when David came to the point of repentance for his actions, that he may have said, “If only I could lose that one day from my life; that day when I was walking on the roof and saw Bathsheba and could not control my body and thoughts. If only I could have that day back. If only I could have slept through that day my life would have been different.”
I want to ask you the question again that I asked you earlier: If you could lose a day or even a few days from your life, which would they be?
We all have days and moments in our lives that we wish we could do over. How many of us have at one time or another wished we could turn back the hands of time and make a different decision than we made or say different words than we spoke, or take back an unkind act that we did?
For some of us, maybe all of us, there are certain days that stand out above the others. Something happened to us, we got some bad news, we did or said something wrong, or worse, we committed some grave sin against God and the circumstance has followed us the rest of our lives.
I have a number one day that stands out above any other. I will not tell you the specifics, but I will tell you that I remember the exact date, location, and almost the exact time that the particular incident occurred. The decision that I made that day has affected the entire course of my life. It affected every part of my life. It affected decisions that were made for years afterwards. It affected career choices. It affected moving decisions. It affected me financially. It affected my family life for years. It affected my sense of self-worth. All because of one decision made in a moment of time. I think of a line from a sermon I once heard entitled “Payday Someday”. The line was, “This is the price I pay for just one riotous day.” So many times I have said, “I wish I could have just slept through that day. If I could just lose that one day from my life how much better my life would have been. Oh to just turn back the hands of time, miss that day, and go on with my life.”
But I cannot do it. The calendar of time always moves forward, never backwards.
Let me tell you about a second man and the most terrible day of his life. That man is Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a holy life pleasing to God. All of his ways in dealing with people were righteous and just. He was the most kind and compassionate person who ever lived. He was both God and man. He healed the sick and raised the dead. He taught people how to be reconciled to God the Father. He never sinned. When he came to the end of his life he had no regrets. He did not have to say, “I wish I could lose a day. I wish I could go back and have a ‘do-over.’”
One fateful day, at the hands of wicked men, Jesus was nailed to a cruel cross for crimes he did not commit and was left to hang between heaven and earth to suffer and die for our sins. He bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we who are sinners might be redeemed. Jesus died on Calvary’s cross for all the days that we wish we could lose; for all the unkind words we wish we could take back; for all the bad decisions that we have made because we are sinners; and, for all the hurtful acts we have committed against others when we sinned. To bring the point home even further, Jesus died for us all the time knowing that we would commit sin, and yet he still gave his life and bore our punishment.
The most terrible day in Jesus’ life is not one that he wishes he could have missed. Saint Paul says, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). The cross is the power of God to save us from the days we wish we could lose. It is the power of God to save us when we wish we could turn back the hands of time for a “do-over.” It is the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ that will allow us to one day stand guiltless before the Throne at the coming of our Lord Jesus.
David knew that there was mercy with God. David knew that he must suffer the earthly consequences of his sin, but he also knew that God was a God of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. You can read David’s act of contrition and repentance in Psalm 51.
I am convinced, after 40 years of pastoral ministry, that one of the most troubling problems for Christians is the issue of guilt from the past. In speaking with people in counseling situations, in hearing comments from people after sermons, hearing confessions, and in simply answering questions from people, one of the underlying threads is that even though we believe in forgiveness of sins, we often cannot forgive ourselves and we carry a burden of guilt we were never meant to carry. The blessed Apostle tells us, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Perhaps you are living in the past and it is hurting you in the present. You feel yourself always haunted by the specter of that one day. God does not live in the past. God lives in the present moment. Ask the Holy Spirit to enable you to have joy to live in the present. Learn to enjoy the Sacrament of the Present Moment.
Have you a day or days that you wish you could lose? You can lose them. No, you will never lose them from the history of this world or from the calendar or even from your thoughts. But you can lose them at the cross. Today you need to come and lay down those days you want to lose at the foot of the cross and leave them there. Take your burdens to the Lord and leave them there. There is room at the cross for you.
As we close this year, ask God to release you from the guilt of the past. Offer the guilt up as an offering to him. Praise and thank Jesus for paying the price for you and bearing the guilt for you.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. +Amen.