Remembering a Birthday While I Can Still Remember…

These are all my grandchildren, to this point. Don’t they look like an intelligent lot? They really are and and I love them all, and their parents. Yesterday was my birthday and it was most wonderfully affirming. Not only did my kids take me to Top Golf (indoor driving range) where we also had lunch, but my son Jamie who now lives and works in Switzerland was there for a surprise visit. (He had a conference in Canada.)

That evening, we all had dinner together and they gave me a Shutterfly book of remembrances that contained pics and little affirmations from my local and extended family, including the wonderful bunch from Australia and my future daughter-in-law from England. It was like being present at your own funeral service – and cheaper.

The whole day (including my Facebook greetings) was a reminder of what a blessed man I am (not lucky, but blessed) and how much I owe to God for the life He has given me. It was also a reminder of how easily I could screw it up if I allowed myself to be deceived by my own sinful nature and proneness to isolationism and independence. Whenever I have preached, I have always prayed Martin Luther’s sacristy prayer which contains this phrase, “And do not leave me to myself lest I bring it all to destruction.” No man, pastor, husband, father, or grandfather is beyond the real possibility of bringing the church down on his people or the house down on his family! And the reality  doesn’t get any easier the older one gets.

I must daily admit to myself that I am basically flawed and broken and in desperate need of God’s forgiveness and transforming grace. I need to be constantly preaching the gospel to myself and feeding my soul on the presence and promises of God in Christ. I must not hitch the wagon of my identity to anything else (position, experience, self-confidence) other than to the certainty that Jesus Christ is my Savior. As the old hymn goes “I dare not trust the sweetest frame (merit or anything I bring to the table) but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

And I must, by God’s grace, not allow a disconnect to grow between my private life and who I am in public. May God continue to have mercy upon my old soul. Amen.