Today is my birthday: I was born on this day 48 years ago. Later today, I will enjoy cake and ice cream while surrounded by loved ones who will lavish me with heart-felt greetings and presents. If you think about it, celebrating birthdays are a bit odd – we sing, give gifts and offer well wishes to someone who had no choice in the matter of their birth and accomplished nothing more than arriving. It is almost as if we are simply celebrating the fact that an individual has survived another 365 days.
I appreciate the fact that I have survived the year, that I am, indeed, celebrating another birthday. However, as it is my birthday, I have to say that some of those days I merely survived; a number of days over the past year I was not “more than (a) conqueror” and was I more like a struggler. I battled fear and lost; I battled anger and lost; I battled temptation and lost; I battled the culture and lost. I am grateful that the days of victory outnumbered the days of defeat and have only the Lord to thank.
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12 (NIV)
I was up late last Saturday (later than I probably should have) with the television on. The show I had been watching was over and a televised sermon by Andy Stanley came on. Part of his message related to Psalm 90:12, at which point he told his audience that the Moses (the writer of the Psalm) was saying that “we ought to number our days because our days are numbered”. My days are numbered: 11,688 left if I live to be 80. Sounds like a lot, until I do the math the other way: I’ve already spent 17,532 days. This also doesn’t account for the fact that my 80th birthday is not guaranteed, and for that matter, neither is my 49th. So, allow me to celebrate today, for today is what I have.
Today is my birthday. Thanks in large part to my father and an even larger part to my mother I have been blessed to have been around for 48 years. I guess I am no longer young (a truth that came clear to me recently when I realized most of the cultural references on SNL who foreign to me and the music I own is now relegated to the oldies station). I am also not old (I can still beat most of my kids in a footrace and have yet to yell at hooligans from my front porch). I am comfortably middle-aged. So, allow me to celebrate that I am 48 today; I rejoice that I have a pleasant view from the top of ‘the hill’.
Today is my birthday. I have, hopefully, about another 12 thousand days to accomplish what God has for me to do. As I blow out the candles and make my wish tonight, I’ll tell you what I’ll be thinking: Lord, help me to know my days are numbered. My wish for my birthday is that I will not waste a single one of them in fear, in anger, in lust or in envy. And that is my birthday wish for you as well.