Happy Birthday! – Understanding a Gift Received 48 Years Ago
It seems like such an anti-climactic way to start a blog. After all, I have been thinking about writing since my seminary days. The idea of a book sounds daunting, and so many of you have asked me to write that posting my thoughts seemed like such an easy thing to do. But now that the time is here, it is far more difficult than I thought it would be. In fact, I feel ill-equipped to take on this task. There are so many men and women who would seem to be better choices for this undertaking that I am a little unsure of what to do. And the technology piece, as most of you know, is as daunting as any other part of this journey. In fact, I expected some grand idea to pop into my brain to launch this initiative but after spending days and days thinking about it, nothing seemed to jump out at me – until this morning, my 58th birthday. So, what happened?
During the past several weeks, we’ve been reorganizing our bookshelves and we decided to move all the old family Bibles up to my office. There are quite a few of them, dating back to the mid 1800’s, but a small one caught my eye and memories of long ago flashed across my mind. I remembered a birthday from my childhood – February 19, 1963, my 10th birthday, to be exact – when I received a small package from my grandma. She was one of those grandmothers who always kept cards, and stuck dates in things she gave you, and to be honest, she never gave very good presents. But with the wild expectations of a child, I kept thinking each year her gifts would get better. Well, it was not to be. Grandma gave me a small New Testament; not even a whole Bible! What was I going to do with that? So I opened it quickly, gave her the cursory thank you, and couldn’t wait for my presents from the other family members.
I could never bring myself to give that Testament away, but throughout the years, it sat on the shelf, and somehow has made the move with us each time Janet and I changed homes. I don’t even think our children know I have it. But somehow, yesterday, I noticed that old Bible as I was re-arranging my office; and I put it on my desk. Nothing special, just sitting there. And then I opened it and read the inscription. There, beside my name and grandma’s signature, a verse reference: Hebrews 13:20-21, “May the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
And I could not help but smile. There, right in front of me, was the encouragement I needed to make this transition in my own life. God, who is just and right, will EQUIP each of us with EVERYTHING good for DOING HIS WILL. And, it should be our prayer that our work and our efforts will glorify God and be pleasing to him, through Christ. So, just like the Jews who expected a King on a white horse to save them, I expected some big idea to launch this blog. Instead, the Jews got a humble carpenter, and I received a whisper of encouragement from God. Who would have known that it would take 48 years to get that birthday message? So, thanks for the present Grandma – I finally understood it.
So this is my encouragement to you. Dedicate your efforts to the Lord, and know that if you are called to a specific task, God will equip you, guide you and surround you with people to make the effort successful. And that is sufficient for each of us – to lean on God day by day as we endeavor to be the hands and feet of Him on this Earth.
May this effort be worthy, and may God be glorified in the process. Amen.