I’m pretty good about remembering birthdays and sending greetings on FaceBook and other social media platforms. But I confess that today was a busy day – I know more people with birthdays on today’s date, August 8th, than any other day of the year.
I thought of six right off the bat including our youngest grandson, Drew, who turned twelve today. Besides that, there are at least two others (and I think more than that) who also call August 8th their birthday.
As I reviewed my friendships and the list of those celebrating today, I thought about my relationship with all the diverse people in my life. There are former business colleagues who have birthdays today, a fishing guide I know, the son-in-law of a friend I met on the Beartooth Highway in Montana and Wyoming, a woman whose son needed a kidney transplant that we helped with, the son of one of Andrew’s friends, a person in Oklahoma and I am sure several others who don’t immediately come to mind.
Drew, our grandson who was among those celebrating today, moved here with our daughter Jill two years ago from Oklahoma where he was born. He has now really become fully engaged in life here in Indiana. It was good to see him Friday night when we first celebrated and also today at church.
It’s so interesting to see how different kids are today than when I turned twelve. There were no cell phones, personal computers, video games or other digital forms of entertainment when I grew up. We played in the street with our friends and normally went to dinner at the Barn, one of Janet’s and my favorite restaurants when we were young. Sadly, it is no longer in business. Drew celebrated more like we did in the old days. No monstrous party, with one group trying to outdo another. There’s something genuine about that – an authentic low key event anchored by family.
At church, when we turned twelve, we also started our study for confirmation class. We had our own Bibles and took a class to become more familiar with the Scriptures in anticipation of joining the church the following year. Some of our best friendships early on were kids we went to church with. I presented Drew with a Bible for his studies several weeks ago!
Speaking of the Bible, there are only three times the word birthday is used in the Scripture. All three occurrences make reference to parties or celebrations. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that people party on their special day! In fact, more and more, birthdays have become a drawn out event when kids get to celebrate for up to a week, or more, when their day comes around.
Although Drew is now fully engaged in his Indiana life, he is getting to the age when he doesn’t remember all the stuff we used to do together when he was a really young guy. It’s ironic that several of my favorite pictures are of times with Drew. When he was barely several years old, we cut tree branches and he carried them across Kristin’s backyard to the trash. I started teaching him at an early age the value of working and helping family when it was needed. Pictures recorded that lesson.
Another time, I was out back teaching him how to fish in the lake behind our home at dusk. Jill snapped a picture at exactly the right moment, a silhouette of a boy looking up at his grandfather, so reminiscent of the way I would stand with my own grandfather. And, in another favorite memory, I was preparing at a hospitality client site for Thanksgiving dinner and Drew wanted to tag along as I checked the kitchen and the dining rooms. We were walking away from the camera when, once again, Jill snapped the picture – a young boy holding on to Grandpa’s hand.
In fact, I think I have more images of Drew and me together, with our backs turned to the camera, than with any other person! Now, as he grows a little older, he helps me make beef jerky and is becoming quite the apprentice pit master. It’s fun to watch him grow and come into his own as his personality becomes more and more evident.
Of course, God knows every move that Drew, and everyone else, would make throughout their lives. Our verse tonight is from one of my favorite psalms – the 139th. The psalmist tells us, in Psalm 139:15-16, “…when I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” In other words, God knows all about us, including the number of hairs on our head, before we are even conceived.
That’s an awesome thought, isn’t it? God knows us better than anyone! And that should also give each of us comfort as well. My encouragement this evening is that God is with us always – every step of the way. And if we accept His offer of eternal life, He will be with us throughout eternity as well. My prayer is that each year we will celebrate our growing relationship with the Creator and take a moment to see how we have been drawn closer since our last birthday. Drew, Happy Birthday, we love you – and to the rest of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…