My birthday is tomorrow. As my friend, Bobby, might say, it will be the 58th anniversary of the day of my birth. Try as I may, I still haven’t caught up with another friend, Randy.
This year, I feel particularly pensive. Many of my former high school classmates just gathered for a celebration of our 40th year since graduation. I appreciate how social media and smart phone technology almost made me feel like I was there. The pictures and comments on Facebook brought back more than a few memories and stirred a melancholy mix of emotions. They also revealed in no uncertain terms how far from 18 we have all come.
As I kept coming back again and again for more updates from our class reunion, I was saddened by the number of our peers who have died. Like every generation, I imagine most of us rarely if ever imagined we were actually mortal. Live forever? Tell that to one of our own, Mitch, whom I understand is now in hospice care. Actually, I think he would gladly tell us the truth about graduations and living forever. Anyone who believes and receives Jesus Christ will graduate to glory when death comes, and they will live forever – truly live and truly forever!
Today, it feels like most of my “firsts” have come and gone.
· First home run – hit off my friend, Brad Burns. Actually, I hit two off of him in that game – the first barely over the right field fence at Shields and the second was a bomb to left.
· First girlfriend – Hey! I carried her books, she taught me how to play basketball. Thanks, Jill.
· First true love – I know who that is. Donna, you are still the one. How wise and gracious of God to complete me with you!
· The five first times to hold each of our “Fab Five” – Lauryn, Bethany, Jonathan, Joshua, Caitlyn, God continues to teach me about Himself, His love, His amazing “father-ing” (?) by the esteemed honor is it to be your dad.
· The first time I sang our “Family Song” to our grandkids, and the upcoming first tie to sing it to our third grand.
Ah, you get the picture. Now, I am at a time of life when I need to appreciate the swift arrival of many, many “lasts.” The problem with our “lasts” is the most of them wave an unnoticed farewell to us in the rearview mirror before we even knew they were here. We do not typically schedule our most meaningful “lasts.” I so very much want to make the most of my “lasts.”
I suspect the best way to make the most of my “lasts” will be to do my best to see and seize every moment of meaning. Many of my friends have heard me talk about making the rest of our lives the best of our lives. You may also remember me saying something to this effect: None of us know how many days we have left in the rest of our lives. We do know, however, when the rest of our lives starts – right now. I think this is akin to what the psalmist means, “Lord, teach us to number our days” (Psalm 90:12).
That brings me back to my birthday. Occasionally, my beloved or one of my children will ask me what I want for my birthday. I rarely know what to say (or at least how to tell my sensible, godly, grown-up sweetheart I really want the newest RPG for my PS4 – or the next Madden if there is not a new RPG to my liking!). Well, this year I think I do know what I want for my birthday; although, I fear I may stumble to say it as well as I would like.
The wonderful reality about what I really want most for my birthday is that it is FREE! It has already been paid for in full! The sobering reality about my birthday wish is that it requires of any who would be so inclined to give up everything in the exchange, an exchange heavily tilted in our favor, immeasurably so! We give up our brokenness, failures, blind scurrying, and sad ends for healing, wholeness, healing, and Home. The heartbreaking and tragic reality is the eternal loss of every soul who walks away from the offer God extends.
If you have read this far, maybe you would dare to read a bit more. This piece won’t answer every question, but as I read it today, I thought of more than a few of my favorite people, and I thought this might be a helpful stepping stone for some of you in a new direction. Of course, if you’d like to take a few more steps in that way, I would be happy to walk with you!
Anyway, thanks for being who you are and whom God has fashioned you to be in my life. Thanks for enduring! And, thanks for giving this article from Patrick Morley a look-see. Here’s what he thinks is the best analogy of the existence of an invisible God he’s ever heard (http://bit.ly/33HFuui). I like it, too.
Well, here's to wishing me a happy birthday!