Today was a special day. Janet and I took our daughter, Kristin, and her three boys to Woodland Country Club for brunch with Santa. After the buffet, we all headed in to the ballroom where a magician was performing tricks for young and old alike. Faith was there making balloon animals for all the kids and we all had fun trying to figure out the card tricks and the rest of the things Mark the magician was doing.
Aside from brunch, we also started to celebrate a birthday – tomorrow is Connor’s birthday. He is the oldest of the boys and will turn 10 on Monday. As he likes to say – he will now have “double digits.” Anyway, since his father, Jimmy, is busy in downtown Indy attending an athletic conference, Janet and I, along with Connor’s other grandparents, went over to Connor’s house to celebrate. We brought the requisite pizza from Little Caesar’s and got ready to serve the kids first.
I noticed the first plate in the stack was different from all the others and had a slogan, “Today’s your special day” painted on it. As most of you know, I do quite a bit of work in the corporate arena with communications and team dynamics; and one thing that comes up quite a bit is the reference to these special plates. The trend to set aside a special plate or cup setting a child apart from others started about 30 years ago. And, over time, in combination with other celebratory events, has started to cause come issues in the workplace. This is because people have become more used to almost constant positive feedback. And they don’t function nearly as well if they don’t get it.
The younger generations have been raised a little differently from those of us who are older. Everyone gets pizza to celebrate the end of the sports season; and winners and losers are treated pretty much all the same. Then, of course, there is the plate. The idea that a birthday or random event warrants being awarded the distinction of getting to eat a meal on something different. All this has tended to minimize the need to excel in the business world and many companies are trying to deal with this new reality of having to provide nearly constant positive feedback for their employees.
Anyway, there in front of me was one of the “special plates” that I have heard so much about. I wondered how Connor would react if I used the plate instead of giving it to him. I was kind of expecting him to protest. Much to my pleasant surprise, Connor wanted me to use the plate when I let him know that I had never eaten from a “Today’s your special day” plate. Not only was he being unselfish, but he wanted to thank me for brunch at the club earlier in the day. I was quite impressed, especially since it is his birthday tomorrow.
A funny thing happened when I sat down at the table. I started thinking about being special. Really…… Oh, I wasn’t that concerned about whether the boys thought I was a good Grandpa, or whether Kristin or Janet would laugh at me, but I did start to think about God. And I imagined that He had placed that plate in front of me. Because to God, every day is special for those who believe in Him. For a moment I wondered whether I have tried to honor God with my life and how He would react to the things I have tried to do with my life. With each bite I took, I stared at that saying in front of me, “Today’s your special day.”
By the end of dinner, I was really believing it. I felt encouraged to a higher level of commitment. Like I didn’t want to disappoint God – I wanted to be worthy of the plate! I know this sounds a little childish, and in a way it is, but God wants us to have childlike faith and cling to Him with our very being. And He does think we are special.
The verse for tonight is from Deut. 7:6, “For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Now this verse, written by Moses, affirms that God chose His people to be special. At the time, He was referring to the Jewish people; the house of Israel. But after the Old Testament ended, and God spoke to us through the New Testament, Paul made it quite clear to us, and so did Peter, that Jews and Gentiles are both special in God’s sight.
So my encouragement tonight is to affirm to you that God thinks you are special. So special that He sent His Son to die for your sins, and also for mine. My prayer is that you will take this love seriously and try to act in a manner consistent with making God proud of our actions and glorifying Him in everything we do. Because today’s your special day, and the day after, and the day after….. and by the way, Happy Birthday, Connor – Monday’s your special day, and I really appreciate the use of your plate. You’re one cool grandson…. Grace and God’s peace to you, now and throughout the all the days of your life…