Today, our son Andrew celebrated his 33rd birthday. By all accounts, it was one of those somewhat lazy days. Andrew spent some time at home and then joined us for a barbecue here at our house. It was good to just be with him and take it easy. We grilled hamburgers and hot dogs; and had a little bit of birthday cake for dessert. It’s strange each birthday to re-live the lives of our children. It seems like yesterday that Janet and I were just married, and now we have three children who are in their thirties. It sure has been a full life for us – and for our kids.
It’s been a real blessing for us to watch our children grow up into adults. It’s also interesting to see the values we instilled in them as young children and how they now make decisions based on their faith and the other value systems they have acquired throughout the years. Of course, we don’t agree with all the choices any of our children make, but we have learned to respect those choices even if we don’t agree. The Lord knows that Janet and I wanted to control our own lives when we were young as well.
Throughout the years, we have watched our own faith, and the faith of our children, wax and wane. There was a time when our children were in grammar school that we weren’t nearly as committed to a faith based life as we are today. In fact, it has been more than 20 years now that we have been overtly committed to church, a faith based life and a solid biblical foundation for the the decisions we make. Both Janet and I grew up in the church, like our children did, but our folks never demonstrated the strong faithful following of Jesus that Janet and I have tried to model for our three children.
What’s even more interesting to me is that Andrew is now the age that Jesus was when He finished His earthly ministry, was crucified, resurrected and ascended to the Father. Back in those days, rabbis started their service at the age of 30 and worked for approximately 20 years – until the age of fifty. At that time, they changed roles and mentored the younger men coming up through the ranks. Ironically, there was no mention of retirement for these rabbis who had served faithfully for 2 decades.
We know from the Scriptures that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist at the beginning of His earthly ministry. He then spent three years spreading the word about following Him and giving up the old ways of the Jewish life in favor of dedication to a God centered life – a life better than the old life centered around the Law. Now, a life of grace was available to anyone who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior – the free gift of salvation. When I think about all the things that Jesus accomplished, and that it was all over by the time He was Andrew’s age – 33 – it boggles my mind.
Of course, as a proud father, when I look at the things Andrew and our other children have accomplished in their lives, it also boggles my mind! The verse for this evening reflects my desire for Andrew. It is from James James 1:4, “Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” In other words, even though Jesus finished His earthly ministry by the age of 33, most of us are still getting started at that age. That requires perseverance and a commitment to continuous improvement. That, and a belief in and dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ are what people need to be all that they can be.
My encouragement this evening is that Andrew, and each of you, are celebrated in heaven whenever we do something that advances the kingdom of God. My prayer is that you will be dedicated, as James encourages us, to ensure that we become mature and complete – experiencing the fullness of God and all that He desires for our lives. Happy Birthday, Andrew, and to all of you, have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…