Tomorrow is Andrew’s birthday. I remember nine years ago, when he turned 30, I wrote about the Levite priests and how they began their official time of service at the age of thirty and then served in their priestly capacity for twenty years. And next year, when he turns forty, there are all kinds of things that I can write about, but I was temporarily stumped about what to say about his 39th birthday…
That’s when the recollection of Jack Benny came to mind. In fact, I am sure that it was intensified by the fact that I ran across a radio show on Sirius XM earlier today that was one of the old Jack Benny broadcasts. Now I am sure that many of our younger readers are confused at this point – in fact, they probably don’t have any idea who Jack Benny even was, much less his ties to the number thirty-nine… however, our older readers know exactly what I am talking about…
So for those of you who don’t know anything about Jack Benny, he was an American icon who was a comedian, a violinist, had a radio show, a TV variety show and a host of other entertainment venues that made him one of America’s best loved people. As a boy, I remember watching his show on Sunday evenings at Grandma and Grandpa’s house after dinner. Grandpa loved the Jack Benny show and I remember the laughter as we watched together as a family. And once Jack turned thirty nine, he never added any years to his life after that. Even when Jack died, in 1974 at the actual age of 80, he would always claim that he was 39… the same age that Andrew will be tomorrow.
From a biblical perspective, the number thirty nine is one of the more obscure numbers that we encounter. There are only three references to “thirty-ninth” in the entire Scripture and they all refer to kings. By the way, none of them seem to be of any real consequence as far as the story of God is concerned.
However, there are 39 books in the Old Testament and that is noteworthy. That, coupled with the 27 books of the New Testament make up the Bible as most of us know it. By the way, the Catholic Bible contains additional books between the OT and NT. And just as we each go through chapters of our lives, the story of God’s people travels from Genesis through Malachi in the pages of the Old Testament.
Just as we have studied each book of the OT, Janet and I have travelled Andrew’s 39 years to date with great interest. From his first words and steps, through school, into the corporate world and continuing to grow as a person and in his faith, we are proud of what Andrew has accomplished in his life. It hasn’t always been easy for him; or for us. Raising a son is far different than raising daughters – as Janet and I can attest. There have been ups and downs, but as Andrew gets older, he has solidified his own identity and has a much better idea of who he is and what he wants from life.
That’s a difficult thing to do – many of us still don’t have a clear picture of our mission in life. And as Andrew continues to grow, I think he has a stronger faith and may even be more agreeable to the counsel that Janet and I periodically provide. While there is a biblical mandate to heed the advice of parents, it is really a verse from Ephesians that speaks to me the loudest tonight.
It is a passage from Paul’s letter to his church at Ephesus. He tells the church, in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The church at Ephesus was the most mature church that Paul had started and the one that benefited from Paul’s deepest theological teaching. Paul’s point was that we all are gifted by God, and there is a mission that each of us is uniquely qualified to accomplish. God has given each of us the tools necessary to achieve our highest purpose according to His wishes.
So, Andrew, on this birthday, it seems to make sense that you, and each of us, may want to examine ourselves and see what God desires for us to accomplish in the next year. My encouragement is that God’s plan for our lives is grander than we could ever imagine for ourselves. My prayer is that each of us will listen to the leading of the Holy Spirit and by following that nudge, we will live our best possible lives. Have a great birthday, Andrew, filled with love, hope, joy, peace and blessings – we love you! And for the rest of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…
Great blog on the 39th. I love the Ephesians 2:10 reference, and shows what a great plan God has for us. How wonderful.