Janet celebrated another birthday today – another year of her incredible life is now in the books. Every so often, Janet’s birthday falls exactly on the day of a post, so it gives me the opportunity to speak about our lives on the actual day of celebration. And this year, rather that put all kinds of candles on the cake, I decided that the most important – in fact, the only candle on her cake, should be the one that we traditionally refer to as the “one to grow on.” While all the other candles count the past, the “one to grow on” refers to the future and what comes next. But to get there, it is important that we acknowledge the past and all that has been accomplished.
As I look at the events of the past year, the biggest thing that pops out is the fact that the faith of our children continues to grow, primarily as a result of Janet’s commitment to living “palms up” – trusting God with our lives, our finances and our health. It takes a remarkable person to do this, yet for Janet, who has a spiritual gift of faith, it seems a regular, ordinary thing – understanding that God knows our need and will provide for us consistent with His will for our lives and the lives of our children.
For those of you who know Janet, this probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Janet has had incredible faith for scores of years – primarily as a result of the influence of her maternal grandmother, who also got her started on the inspirational and devotional readings of Norman Vincent Peale. She even got me started reading his books many years ago. And while people may expect that my faith would be the driving force of the family, that just isn’t the case. My faith is more learned, while Janet’s faith just seems to flow from her – it seems so easy.
A benefit of our long relationship is that Janet and I continue to grow closer and closer. Each year I reflect on the fact that God created Janet for me; and me for her… It’s a match truly made in heaven. As we continue to mature, so does our relationship. And as we enter this next chapter of our lives, looking at semi-retirement and how we will spend our time, we each find that our greatest joy comes from being in the presence of the other. That hasn’t changed throughout the years, but it is even more important to both of us now…
The story of the creation of Man in the book of Genesis highlights the fact that Man was not meant to be alone – and so God created a companion – a wife – for him. I can attest to the fact that my life has been made richer by having Janet with me since we were little. We have grown up together, raised our children together, watched them start their careers, start families of their own – and we have survived health issues, both for ourselves and our kids. We have seen hard times and great times – and have been made stronger in our relationship with God through the really adverse times in our lives.
We have come to understand God’s desire for us to give and to help those less fortunate – but more than anything we have come to appreciate and celebrate our birthdays and the gift that we have been to each other. That’s just an incredible realization in and of itself.
The verse for tonight highlights the verse that first makes us aware that God intended to create the institution of marriage as he designed men and women to be together. We are told by Moses, the author of Genesis, in Genesis 2:18, “Gen. 2:18 (from The Message), “God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” Please note that men and women were meant to be companions – and that is the gift that God has given me in Janet. And her birthday is the annual celebration of this remembrance of God’s promise to us.
My encouragement this evening is that God wants us to revel in the gift of our families – usually celebrated on annual birthdays. My prayer is that you will take a moment and thank the Father and His Son for someone in your life who has been a gift to you and whose life has made our life more complete and fulfilling. Happy birthday, my love, and to the rest of you – Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…