I live a quiet life. My days tend to have the same shape, with my activities anchored to specific times, so much so that at any appointed hour, I spring automatically into action. It’s similar, in many ways, to the meticulous scheme that Benjamin Franklin followed so faithfully and immortalized in his Autobiography.
A daily routine works for me as well as it did for Franklin. I swear by mine. Actually, I live by it.
Unlike Franklin, though, who got up at 5:00am, I tease myself (and sometimes others) claiming that I am a little more industrious because I get out of bed at 4:00am.
And, again, unlike Franklin, I start my day with robust physical activity rather than with passive–though well-intentioned–reflections about what good I shall do for the day, as Franklin did.
What Franklin did, of course, is all fine and well. But I prefer to engage in those reflections as I start my days–each and every one of them, seven days a week–by biking indoors for 20 miles.
As I bike, I listen to music. Not just any music. Generally, it has to be soul-filled Black Gospel music. But some White Gospel music slays me in the spirit of their singing, too, so those songs are on my biking playlist.
While biking recently, two songs by White Gospel groups caught my attention. In fact, those two songs got me to thinking about the importance of attitude in our lives.
Those two songs are at the heart of what you’re reading right now.
Both deal with the Biblical event recorded in the Gospel of John 11:1-44.
It’s the story of Lazarus. When he fell ill, his two sisters–Mary and Martha–sent for Jesus. But when He received word, He did not hurry to the side of His three friends. He remained where He was.
When Jesus finally arrived in Bethany, Lazarus had been dead for four days. Jesus ordered that the gravestone be rolled away, and then He raised Lazarus from the dead.
Even though both songs celebrate the same miracle, each sees it through different eyes.
Their lyrics are consistent with the Biblical account. Having been sent for, Jesus tarried, Lazarus died, and they laid him in the tomb. And as they said their last goodbyes, they looked: coming down the road was Jesus, right on time.
“Right on Time,” the song’s title, is repeated five times in the lyrics.
“Right on time.” Five times.
There is in the McKamey version a celebration of the belief that the Miracle Worker knows our needs–whatever they might be–and that He will arrive to meet those needs right on time. His time.
It is a comforting way to look at the world.
In their version, when Christ arrives, Martha runs out to Him, telling Him that He could have healed Lazarus if He had gotten there sooner.
And then the Miracle Worker gets an upbraiding: “But you’re four days late and all hope is gone.”
Imagine that! He who had performed twenty-eight miracles previous to raising Lazarus from the dead was now charged with being four days late for His twenty ninth!
“Four days late” is repeated six times in the song.
“Four days late.” Six times.
In fairness to Karen Peck and New River, they use the “four days late” refrain to remind us that whatever we’re going through we should be mindful that the Miracle Worker will always be on time for us, even in those times when we think He’s late.
Nonetheless, “Four Days Late” seems more like a lamentation than a celebration.
Same Biblical event. Seen somewhat differently through different lyrics.
What it comes down to is attitude. On time? Late?
And isn’t that true with all of us? What’s our attitude as we look at the events in our lives? Right on time? Four days late? Either way, the outcome is the same.
Why not look at each day as a rich, multifaceted, unpredictable, right-on-time miracle?