Of Birthdays And Such
Last week I celebrated my 60th birthday - or as I prefer to call it: the 20th anniversary of my 40th birthday. My wife and children planned a family vacation to commemorate my official “going over the hill”, and we had a great time being together and enjoying a week of celebrating. The result is that I’m feeling tremendously loved and blessed, which is a great way to start my 61st year.
However, one of the things I’ve learned over the past 60 years is that birthdays are not only a wonderful time to celebrate, they’re also a great opportunity for reflection. Actually, they're a lot like New Year's Eve in that they provide an opportunity for us to stop what we're doing and ponder life. They give us a chance to reflect and remember where we’ve been, and then allow those memories to help us consider where we’re going. So along with celebrating my birth, I’ve also spent the past week remembering, and it’s been a great way to celebrate my birthday.
This idea of "taking time to remember" is not one I came up with - it's actually something God calls us to do. The word “remember” is used over 267 times in the Bible, with most of those references being commands from God for us to "take time to remember". However, the interesting part of God's command for us to remember is that we need to focus on remembering what HE has done. That’s an important distinction for us to keep in mind as we take time to remember, because it isn’t a call to just stroll down memory lane for fun. Instead, God wants us to take time to specifically ponder what He has done for us. 1 Chronicles 16:12 puts it like this, “As His chosen ones, remember the wonders He has performed, remember His miracles, and the rulings He has given - for this honors the Lord your God.”
So God doesn't encourage us to remember the past so that we can focus on ourselves, or on our accomplishments, or even on our failures. Instead, He calls us to remember the past so that we can focus on Him and all that He's done for us. And as we do this, as we reflect back on the past with the sole purpose of remembering what God's done, it does several things for us. First, it gives us a way to truly honor God, giving Him the respect He deserves as the one who has provided all that we’ve needed. Second, it gives credit where credit is due. God’s the one who orchestrates everything in our lives - so acknowledging it not only reminds us of this truth, it also gives us an opportunity to show the world who He is. And finally, remembering all that God has done for us builds our faith for the future as we're reminded that what God has done in the past, He will do in the future. That helps us move forward in life confident that God will take care of us, no matter what the future holds.
It's really an amazing process, because as we focus on God and give Him the honor He deserves, He uses those memories to encourage us, to build our faith, and to help us become the people He's calling us to be. So today, join me in taking time away from the daily hustle and bustle of life to reflect on all God has done for us, and thank Him for it all! And then let's use those memories to motivate us to move forward - committed to serving God faithfully and confidently.