It’s No Joke!
If it’s April 1st, then it can only mean one thing – it’s Janet’s birthday in the morning. I know that I have written about her in the past, but since she is the center of my life here on earth, how can I pass up the chance to once again mention that Wednesday, April 2 is her special day. Believe me, we have spent quite a few birthdays together. In fact, as most of you know, we have spent scores of birthdays together – we’ve been married more than 40 years and have known each other for more than 15 years before that. Janet has known me more years than almost anyone else. I just can’t imagine being married to anyone else – and she feels the same way.
This year, though, her birthday will be bittersweet. It’s the first time that Janet will celebrate a birthday without her folks. Who would have thought that in the last year, both her mother and father would have entered heaven only eighteen days apart. On the other hand, Janet and her sisters were fortunate to have their parents for so many years – far more than most of us. That doesn’t make the sense of loss any less painful, though. I remember the first year I spent a birthday without my father, and then years later, my mother. It’s tough to imagine having to deal with the loss of both parents in the same year – especially when it was unexpected.
As hard as I will try, there is only so much that I can do to ease her sadness. But I’m going to try. After all, life goes on and is for the living. That’s the way God intended it. There is the natural progression of life and the ultimate transition to heaven. But Janet and I both hope that we have many years left here on earth. We are entering that time of our lives when we are traveling a little more, have just moved into a new home that we are completely modifying for our unique tastes and we are still deeply in love. How many couples can say that after all these years?
And as the birthdays continue to mount up, the receiving of gifts becomes less important. It’s more about the relationships that we have – and discerning what God desires of us in the next year of our lives. Certainly, giving has taken on a larger role – and how we can positively impact future generations. Whether it is helping a child to be able to attend an after school program, or providing leadership mentoring for the generation that will be running the economy is several years, Janet and I have come to the age that we think about how we can spend our years for the advancement of the kingdom.
I miss some of my studies, and Janet is actively looking for ways to give back as well, but tomorrow is a time of reflection and celebration of one of God’s special people. In all the years I have known Janet, I don’t believe that I have met anyone who doesn’t value her as a friend and confidante. And I can tell you first hand that she is a terrific wife and mother as well. I have been fortunate that she has chosen to spend her life with me and I don’t take that responsibility lightly. We are a team – like matched luggage. We go together and that’s all there is to it.
The verse for this evening highlights the fact that God is always with us – throughout all eternity – whether we are experiencing joy or deep sadness. Tonight I have chosen an obscure passage from Psalm 139:5-6, “You hem me in—behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.” What we observe here is that God is ahead of us, behind us and even has a hand on us, all the time. My encouragement this evening is that we are to experience joy when we realize the closeness of God. My prayer is that you will walk with God all the days of your life, appreciate the life that He has given you and that you will use your birthdays to decide how you can best honor your Creator in the coming year. Happy Birthday, my love, and I hope that all of you have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…