Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

This past week, we celebrated a birthday in our family – my husband turned seventy.  Now that, as we all told him earnestly, is really old. It even sounds old – much older than sixty-something does! Now he definitely qualifies to be called an ‘oldie’ by his children and their generation – not to mention his grandchildren! Recently he joked that, having now reached his ‘three score years and ten’, his time could well be up any day. He is well aware of what Psalm 90:10 says:

The length of our days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

Sounds quite pessimistic, doesn’t it? Yet it’s true we will all face trouble and sorrow in some shape or form during our lives. We are all human – and we chose long ago to go our own way and forget about God. But it’s also important to look at the context of those words. In my bible, this psalm is called ‘A prayer of Moses the man of God’ and begins:

Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations.

Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men,”

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night.

To God, seventy or eighty years are nothing – God was and is and always will be. From God’s perspective, we don’t have long on this earth to make a difference here, to do what we were created to do, to live as God would have us live. So I think it’s important we all pray the words of verse 12 from this same psalm before we get any closer to our own ‘three score years and ten’:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

It’s so easy for the weeks, months, years to slip away and for us not to take stock of where we’re heading in life, isn’t it? I don’t know about you, but I want to ‘number my days aright’, to live wisely, walking hand in hand with God, listening to that still, small voice within, doing what God calls me to do. Recently, someone commented that I should have started writing my novels years ago. For a moment that caused me to feel a little chilled inside and to wonder if perhaps I’d taken a wrong turn somewhere along the line. Would I have been able to touch more people and been used more of God, had I begun writing earlier? I suspect I needed to be the age I was, however, when I started. I don’t think I would have had the confidence to embark on such a journey any earlier, not to mention the life experience and understanding of people required. And I suspect I needed time to know God better and also acquire more of that ‘heart of wisdom’ mentioned in the psalm. I still do.

My husband has used his ‘three score years and ten’ very well, I believe – over forty of them in some form of ministry – and I hope I do too. But how about you – how are you travelling? Are you gaining that ‘heart of wisdom’?

Are you ‘numbering your days aright’?

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There’s something magical about the excitement in a child’s face as he or she anticipates an upcoming birthday, isn’t there?  Recently our granddaughter turned seven – an event for which she had been counting down the days for some time.  She has various close relatives on both sides of the family – what could they possibly come up with this time for her birthday?

Well, one doting grandfather is of quite an original turn of mind and decided he would create something unique.  He spent literally hours and hours at his computer, figuring out how to use his reasonably new software to fashion a DVD out of some very brief movie snippets he had filmed with his own camera over the last couple of years.  He worked patiently, cutting sections out and ‘splicing’ others together until it all flowed smoothly.  And as an introduction, he managed to find a birthday song online where our granddaughter’s name could even be inserted at various spots.  Can you imagine her face when it came time for her to see her own personal DVD?  Absolute delight, shock, surprise, wonder, excitement – they were all there, written large on her face.  The gift was a definite ‘hit’, even though our granddaughter would have no idea of the hours her grandfather had spent in creating it.  He had enjoyed himself in the process, however, and learnt a lot along the way.  And the cost moneywise was virtually nothing.

Then one of her aunties spent considerable time checking out the trendiest children’s clothing stores for just the right kind of ‘with it’ pyjamas for her niece.  A trip to various jewellery stores followed, as she searched for purple earrings for a little girl with newly pierced ears.  She revelled in it all, despite time (and financial) constraints, and she was happy with her purchases – but she felt something was missing.  Then one day, she spied an extra gift in a ‘two dollar’ shop she couldn’t resist. It was a pretty little ‘secret’ diary, with a padlock and key, so only her niece would be able to look at the contents – and all for two dollars!  And you guessed it.  On the night when she opened all her gifts, apart from Granddad’s DVD, the ‘secret diary’ won hands down over the much more expensive earrings, pyjamas, books, craft kits etc.

So what is it that I take away from our seventh birthday experiences?  Some lovely memories of the joy of the moment, of course.  But also the realisation that it’s not always the expensive presents that mean the most.  It’s the ones where, whatever the financial cost, the giver has truly engaged in the process, reaching out in real love to someone else, desiring the best for him or her.

And that to me is surely a reflection of God’s love for us, don’t you agree?  God is always reaching out with the most amazing love, wanting to give good gifts to his children.  God engaged in the process long before we were even born.  God desires the best for each one of us and understands what we need better even than we do ourselves.  So let’s all, just like a little seven-year-old child, open our hearts and hands to him and receive with thankfulness the best gift of all – God’s own ‘indescribable gift’ of grace (2 Cor 9:15)!

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It happens to be my birthday this week – and yes, that definitely indicates I’m getting older!  Now I can let that mournful truth affect me in either of two ways.  I can be discouraged, decide I’ve done enough and slow down a little in my writing and speaking endeavours – or I can be encouraged, redouble my efforts and forge ahead, knowing I have even less time to complete all those novels in my mind that are waiting to burst onto the page.

I’ve decided I’m choosing the latter.  In 2010, I will put my best foot forward once again to speak wherever I’m invited about God and about writing in whatever ‘mix’ seems appropriate.  And I’m also aiming to complete my sixth novel, which has patiently waited in the wings these past few months when I have been too busy with other things.  Not that I know myself yet exactly how my characters are going to develop and what they actually will want to do in the end.  I think I know – but I might be wrong.  And I can’t wait to find out!

But how about you?  What unique contribution does God have for you to make to the lives of those around you this year?  Because each of us has something to offer, however little we believe that.  Just today I received a very apt birthday card in the mail, featuring a quote from Max Lucado that says:

Your life has a plot; your years have a theme. You can do something in a manner that no one else can.

I didn’t always believe that, particularly the last part.  I think that many years of my life were spent trying to be like someone else or trying to be the sort of person I thought God wanted me to be, without ever realising it was okay to relax and fully be the person I had been made to be in the first place.  Some time back I read some interesting words written by psychologist and spiritual retreat leader David Benner in his book ‘The Gift of Being Yourself’:

(Our true self) is the image of God that you are – the unique face of God that has been set aside from eternity for you.

That’s a sobering but amazing thought, isn’t it?  Each one of us, created uniquely in the image of God, as Genesis 1:27 talks about, is given the ability to mirror God to the world in a completely unique way as a result.  No one else is going to write my books.  No one else is going to speak exactly as I do and will.  No one else will relate to others or work or care for people or simply live the exact same way as you do.  Each of us has the opportunity to show the world something of God in a unique way.

Are you up for the challenge in 2010?  Whatever your age – go for it!

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