Yesterday I turned thirty-four. It was a milestone for me, because now I have outlived Jesus. It is a striking thought, recalling that he was killed at the age of thirty-three. He had so much life left in him, so much more he could have done for others, and I believe would have gladly given to the world. Yet our sin struck him down. Our disobedience to the will of God nailed him to the cross. What have I done to deserve to outlive Jesus? Nothing, not a thing. Yet here I am, at least one day older, and I realize what a gift time is.
Yesterday also taught be about what a gift relationship is. I had over a hundred people take the time out of their day, and pause their lives to wish me a happy birthday. Every Facebook post, phone call, e-card and text message just struck me as humbling. Before long I was so overwhelmed by the gestures that I started praying my gratitude to God, then I thought of another way to use these well wishes: I started praying individually for every person who contacted me. I scrolled down my Facebook page, lifting those people up in prayer and thanking God that they had come into my life. Sometimes people walk into our lives, sometimes they fall into them, and a feisty few come crashing in, but they all make an impression, they all left an impact. Some of these relationships were founded upon my birth, others from my childhood, and all at various points along my life’s journey. Some are religious. Some are even Christian. Whether they conceptualize it this way or not, they are all a blessing from God to me. Relationship is one of the primary ways that God blesses us, changes us, and transforms us. We discover this in our relationship with the Lord, but we should also recognize that many people are vessels for that same impactful relationship.
Two thousand years ago, Christ came to us at the birth of Jesus. From the day he was born, he crashed into lives, and others crashed into him. He not only impacted others, but he allowed them to impact him, to expand his blessings and offer his healing power. We are called to no less. I mourn that I have not done more in the past thirty-three years for the glory of God. When I think that Jesus’ earthly ministry lasted only three years, I am put to shame for the ways in which I have tarried on the path of discipleship, but then I have experiences like yesterday and I realize that I have been a vessel. I have done some things in accordance with God’s will, and they bear fruit in the relationships I have been blessed to have. Today marks my time of re-dedication. Today I want to continue what I stumbled upon yesterday, and pray over my relationships. So I’m taking time to go person by person through my contacts, my Facebook friends, my Twitter followers, and my blog subscribers. I might not get through every list every day, but I am trying. So know that if you are nestled among the relationships in those places, you are appreciated, being prayed for, thanks is lifted up to God for you, and you are beloved. Not just to God, but to me, too.