Sometimes it is only after the party that we have the time to pause and reflect on what God has brought into our lives. The older I get, the more poignant my birthdays become. It is not because I am sentimental about my age, but because my friends have become more thoughtful about celebrating my birthday. Yesterday was no exception.
(Image courtesy of dealbook.nytimes.com)
I have had the wonderful blessing of friends throughout my life; those people that God seems to be working through to reveal to me joy, provide me with comfort, to push me beyond my own comfort zone to grow and mature. But my birthday yesterday confirmed with me that the most precious gift we can receive is relationship. I had friends show me incredible thoughtfulness. It wasn’t the gifts they brought (although that was truly special), but the planning and intentional way in which they made sure that they remembered me. This made me wonder about the Day of the Resurrection and Judgment Day.
We always think of that day according to what Jesus says in Matthew 25:31-46 about separating the sheep from the goats. It’s a focus upon what God will do on that day with inference about the reaction humans will have to God’s decisions. I wonder if there will be a time on that day when each and every one of us will reflect on our lives. How tremendous such a reflection would be! It is one thing to think about people you have known and loved, those who have shaped your life, but quite another to see them standing beside you once more. When everyone is resurrected and we can see all those people we have ever known, will we think about all the good times we shared and the good we did for one another? Will we have guilt over unresolved conflicts or things that went unsaid and undone? Will we wonder what others thought of us and the way we tried to live our lives as good Christians?
As I reflected upon my life thus far yesterday, it was filled with regrets and sorrow for the wrongs that I have committed and the people I have hurt. Yet the actions of my friends underscored that somehow, some way I manage to get something right every now and then. There are times when I love others as Christ calls me to do, and I embody all that God asks me to be. My birthday became all about rejoicing for that. I realized that each year I live that I get a little closer to becoming the person I want to be, the person that God calls me to be. I also have missteps and backsliding, but over all I am determined to go on to perfection in Christ’s love. I will myself to do it because God calls me to, Christ expects me to, and because it is my responsibility to others and the world to do so.
I hope we all reach that place in our lives when we no longer intentionally sin, even those occasional slips ups when we know we shouldn’t. I hope we live lives marked by relationships that not only bring us joy, but enrich the lives of others. God willing these relationships will also reveal God’s presence, love, grace, and will for us in our lives and the lives of others. I never put many expectations upon my birthday, but yesterday really was a grace-filled day of reflection and gratitude. If you were to pause and look back over your life, do you see an upward trend toward a God centered life? If your friends and family were to memorialize their relationship with you, how would you appear in their eyes? Sometimes our reflection in the eyes of others can be a good starting point for revealing how we reflect in God’s eyes. And not just our friends, but all those with whom we come into contact.
May God bless our lives to be of use to God in this world.