For children, birthdays rival or surpass Christmas as the most important day of the year. Most of my childhood possessions—including socks and school supplies—came on either Christmas or my birthdays. My parent saved—even until today—some of my more popular childhood toys (e.g., the forever-classic Lincoln Logs) for the entertainment of other visiting children. Topping the exuberance, my perennially, health-conscious parents permitted me on this one special day to indulge my delectable cravings for cake and ice-cream. What sweet memories! (Pun intended.) Needless to say, my birthdays never came quickly enough.
Through Adult Eyes
Much has changed. Today is August 20th, my birthday. I desire no gifts. My pleasure is found in the kind words and pronounced blessings of my friends.
Birthdays are also sobering. Birthdays remind me of unreached goals and elusive attainments. Birthdays attune my awareness to the aging process. Time etches creases into my skin, adds grey to my beard, and steals from my scalp.
Birthdays are our annual reminder that our time is short. James asked, “For what is your life?” (Jas. 4:14). The Scripture is replete with statements of our brevity (Job 7:6; 9:25; 14:1-2; Ps. 37:35-36; 89:47; 90:5-6; 102:3, 11; 103:15-16; 144:4; Isa. 38:12; 40:6-8; Jas. 1:11). Our life span is comparable to a spinning weaver’s loom, a handbreadth, a passing shadow, a vanishing vapor, and smoke, but none more frequently than withering grass or a fading flower. The apostle Peter quoted Isaiah, “For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1Pe. 1:24-25). No matter how strong, intelligent, wealthy, accomplished, or famous a person may become, “verily every man at his best state is altogether vanity” (Ps. 39:5). All of us fade from our peak of glory into the annals of history, but we are both preceded and succeeded by God’s Word.
Time is Ticking
Make your life count. Live for your Maker! Be a world changer! As seconds slip from the clock, press harder! Let our temporal nature compel urgency. Join Moses’ supplication to God, “So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Tangible treasures cannot be taken in death, but our lives are immensely important. Today’s actions procure rewards and punishments into eternity. Jesus promised that “whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward” (Mt. 10:42).
With days well lived, we may say, “Happy birthday!”