Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Greatly Loved On My Birthday

At the beginning of your pleas for mercy a word went out, and I have come to tell it to you, for you are greatly loved.
Daniel 9:23

O Daniel, man greatly loved, understand the words that I speak to you, and stand upright, for now I have been sent to you.
Daniel 10:11

O man greatly loved, fear not, peace be with you; be strong and of good courage.
Daniel 10:19
What does God do when He wants you to know that You are greatly loved? One thing He does, as was the case for His prophet Daniel, is He sends someone to tell you.

I had a terrible day on Monday. Waking up over an hour before your alarm clock is supposed to go off is not the best way to start your day, especially when all you can think about from that point forward is how long the day is going to be and how tired you are going to be as a result. Then I went to work and had one of those days in which I accomplished absolutely nothing because the same problem I was trying to figure out how to fix when I got to work is the same problem I was trying to figure out how to fix when I left. It was like I spent eight hours that day staring at the same screen on the computer. And it made me not care very much about the fact that the next day would be my birthday.

When my roommate asked me how I was doing that evening when I got home from work, I told him the truth: terrible. I told him about my horrible day at work and the trouble I had sleeping, which has recently been an ongoing problem. When he asked me what I was doing for my birthday the next day, I told him I had no plans and I would simply wake up and thank God for giving me breath and sustaining me for these twenty five years.

Well, the next morning I woke up at 5:30am, an hour earlier than I usually set my alarm for (so that I can get to work early and leave early to go to Tuesday youth group at church). Still trying to wake up as I walked to the bathroom, I noticed some merchandise on the chair in the living room. A few minutes later after coming out of the bathroom (and now a little bit more awake), I went to sees what it was. It was a set of bedsheets, two pillows, a blanket, and a birthday card with this message from my roommate:
May God keep you strong with good nights of sleep. Psalm 23. Happy Birthday.
That meant the world to me. My roommate had seen me cleaning my room the night before and heard me talking about needing to get new bedsheets so he decided to go and buy me a whole new set of bedding! My birthday couldn't have started out any sweeter. O man greatly loved!

Then I went to work. And before I knew it I had found a solution to the problem that I had spent the whole previous day trying to fix without making any progress. O man greatly loved!

I've now worked at Adobe for over 3 years. Of all the birthdays that have come and gone while being employed there, I don't remember anyone I work with ever taking note of my birthday (maybe one or two people). Yet for some reason, it seemed like my whole group (and some) that I work with knew that it was my birthday. One by one, they would knock on my door and wish me a happy birthday. I kept asking each one, "How did you know it was my birthday?" Yet none of them would tell me how they knew. And then, completely unexpectedly, a group of my co-workers show up at my office ten minutes before noon to ask me where they are taking me out for my birthday. It wasn't a question of if I wanted to go. They rounded up about eight people to take me to one of our new local favorites: an Indian/Pakistani buffet. And of course, they wouldn't let me pay for my lunch. O man greatly loved!

At about 3pm, I received a text message from my roommate to let me know that a bunch of people were going to be meeting up at a restaurant to celebrate my birthday (and they would be bringing gifts) so I should plan to be there. I smiled when I read the message because I thought it was outrageous that someone would plan to celebrate another person's birthday with a bunch of people even though they didn't know for sure whether that person could be there or not. Who does that? No one has ever done that for me. And that's why it meant the world to me. O man greatly loved!

When I went to high school youth group, all the jr. high and high school students decided that they wanted to sing me happy birthday...opera style. I think that last part was a bad idea because they all embellished their voices so that it was probably the worst sounding singing of happy birthday I have ever heard in my life. I'm not kidding. But I love them all for doing it and it meant alot to me. When we broke up into our small groups and I was getting ready to lead the young men in our discussion, these young men decided that the group singing wasn't good enough so they wanted to sing for me again. And so they did. Men only. No embellishing. I really appreciated that. O man greatly loved!

Then after youth group I went to a restaurant where over a dozen people had gathered that night to celebrate my birthday. They brought gifts. They brought cards. They bought me dinner (yes, after 9pm!). O man greatly loved!

And God saved the best for last. One of my friends who came to the restaurant didn't stay very long. He called me about half an hour after he left to tell me that he hadn't brought me a gift because he was low on his finances. Before I could even tell him that that didn't matter to me, he told me that he wanted to do something else for me instead. Instead of buying me a gift, he told me that he had blocked out half an hour that night to spend in focused prayer for me. Thirty minutes in which he would do nothing but lift me up before the throne of grace! Wow. If I could trade all my gifts in the future for that from each person who wanted to give me a gift on my birthday, I would do it in a heartbeat. That blew me away. O man greatly loved!

I've never been one to think much of my birthdays. Through all my years growing up, I only remember having a birthday party when I was four years old (why exactly I cannot tell you, but it is distinct in my memory). Having a birthday in the summer meant that school wasn't in session whenever my birthday came around so I didn't have a bunch of people to invite to a party (this probably was a good thing once jr. high came around and having a birthday meant you got a beating, one hit for each year of your age). And I've been fine with that.

I wonder if this is what makes it so hard for me to experience the reality of what God says to Daniel in my own life. O man greatly loved! I understand those words in my mind. Why? Because the message that God is love (1 John 4:16) is all over the Bible. Yet I don't know if I feel them in my heart. But I know that I want to. And I need to. Desperately. On this birthday, it was like God was shouting to me what at most times feels like a whisper and what, as of late, feels to have fallen silent.

Abba, Father, thank You for twenty five years of unfailing love. Thank You for a special birthday. Please grant me to experience every day more and more of what I tasted yesterday. Almost every page of Your Word tells me that it is there if I would have the eyes to see and ears to hear. Please open these blind eyes. Open these deaf ears. And give me a heart to feel what it means to be greatly loved by the everlasting God who does not change, all because of Christ. In His precious name, Amen.


Mel said...

Happy Birthday! :)

Jessica said...


Lee said...

Happy Birthday, my friend!

jenann said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! (One day late.)