How do you celebrate your birthday? Do you go out and party it up? Do you over indulge on sweets? Do you ignore it and act like it’s not a big deal? Do you talk about it and make it a big deal? I have done all of those things. Birthdays are special. It’s a time to celebrate, to indulge, and to reflect. This Birthday, however, was quite different for me.
For me, this year it was about taking the time to reflect on my life. Taking the time to reflect on the past, and everything I have been through, the good, the bad, and the in between.
And as I sat down with pen and paper to reflect on the past, I felt this overwhelming sense of gratitude. Not because my life has been perfect, far from it, but simply because I am alive and breathing. I don’t even think about my breath, and I don’t have to do anything to be able to breathe. I breathe and I am here, simply because God willed it. Wow! What a miracle! And just to stop and acknowledge my life and my breath as a miracle brought me to tears.
Suddenly my most challenging moments came to mind. In my life, I have experienced moments of deep fear that I can not explain, trauma that I wouldn’t wish upon anyone I know, disappointments that hurt deeply, regrets for choices I made, that if I could, I would have done so differently. And honestly, some of what I have been through didn’t and doesn’t seem fair. I could spend the rest of my life, asking why, or holding grudges, resentments, and shame.
But when I look at the big picture, I can recognize that I wouldn’t be who or where I am today without those experiences. And for that reason, I wouldn’t change a thing. It brings to mind the verse in Romans 8:28 that says, “He makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” My life doesn’t always make sense as it is unfolding but it always makes sense when I look back. And as I think about that, it give me peace for today, knowing that my life is unfolding exactly as it is meant to. That nothing in this world happens by accident. God is the master orchestrator and He is orchestrating every aspect of my life. In this very moment. He is working all things for good in my life and in yours.
I don’t know where you are right now, but I know there is at least one person who is reading this who is going through a very difficult season. Going though something that doesn’t seem fair and quite frankly might not be. This is for you, to remind you that God cares for you and is handling this situation. To remind you that God makes all things work together for good. That He is trustworthy. That He loves you and He loves me more than we can ever understand. He has you here for a reason, a reason you might not be able to see or understand in this moment, but in the future, you will be able to look back and see how He was and is working in your life.
So as I reflected on the past, I felt compelled to write some gratitude letters to some people in my life. First was my mother. I really believe that my Birthday shouldn’t be a celebration of me, because quite frankly, I did nothing to make my birth happen. Instead it should be a celebration and a time to express gratitude for those who sacrificed for me, those who supported me, those who stood by me, those who prayed for me, those who challenged me, those who encouraged me, etc. etc. etc. And as I wrote several letters, and I was an emotional mess, not because I was sad, but because I was so full of gratitude. I realized something else in that very moment that has shifted my perspective on Birthdays.
I realized that in our society we have made birthdays about worshiping the creation instead of the creator. We make birthdays about social media posts, texts, calls, gifts, drinks, cake, and making the person celebrating their birthday feel “special.” And please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying those things are bad. What I am saying is that I believe, we are instead to take that time to worship the Creator of the Universe, to worship the Creator of that person. We are to Honor God for creating us and giving us life, and breath, and a purpose that no one on this earth can fulfill. It brought to mind a verse that I studied recently that says; “They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator himself, who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen” Romans 1:25. This very verse is really challenging me to ask myself who and what am I serving and worshipping?
As I share this with you, my heart and my desire is to simply challenge your thinking. It is to help you look at the big picture and to have peace in the moment, knowing that God is making things work together for good. And finally it is to remind us that we are called to serve and worship the one and only true God, The God who loves us, who provides for us, and who created us.