I think you’d love the way we celebrate birthdays at the Hayford house.
In fact, we have big birthday parties here five times a year. With our four kids who are married, their spouses, eight grandkids, Anna—my wife, myself, and great-grandma Hayford, there’s a total of nineteen birthdays to celebrate each year.
We accomplish all of that celebration, however, in five big events. We cluster groups of birthdays, and have celebrations in January, April, June, September, and December. Of course, each family celebrates each individual’s birthday on their own and on the actual day. Our “cluster” celebrations are just for family fun.
And we do have fun!
It’s a riot watching all the smaller grandkids play together. It’s exhilarating to go out in the driveway and shoot baskets with my sons and older grandboys. It’s delightful to watch the explosion of paper and ribbons as the presents are opened. And it’s most ful-FILL-ing to enjoy the feast as everyone brings his or her share of the meal, and we experience a smorgasbord of salads, hot dishes, and—of course—the cake!
Beginning last year, I started feeling a deep sense of the importance of communicating to people the significance of their birth. Such an emphasis may not seem important to you or me. We may have been raised in a family climate of love and support. We may have lived in a home where, early on, we were taught our worth and significance—with big birthday celebrations that illustrated the point!
But it is increasingly true of our society that fewer and fewer people are brought up in a family atmosphere cultivating a sense of worth in its members. More and more people tend to feel like “cosmic accidents.” Many dear souls have a background of being treated as “problems,” as “unwanted arrivals,” as “unplanned-and-therefore-un-special” beings.
My heart throbs to do what I can, by God’s grace in every way possible, to instill in the heart of every person I can reach an abiding sense of significance. There is nothing like the truth of God’s Word to settle this issue; to create an internal sense of this fact: Every person is a case of “planned parenthood”—God planned you! Whatever else may have seemed to be happenstance, there were no surprises in heaven when either you or I arrived on earth!
Because some were born illegitimately, with deformity, or conceived in less than desired circumstances, people draw the conclusion that God wasn’t involved in the process. But listen: the fact that God may not have willed the way a person came into the world, does not mean He has not planned a purpose for that individual. Long before anyone is conceived, God’s purpose for that LIFE is foreseen:
Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will (Ephesians 1:4-5).
The Bible doesn’t teach that our way of arrival on earth was programmed by God in some computer-like plan of predestined order. But it does teach that HE KNEW WE WOULD BE BORN, and that HE CARED ENOUGH TO PLAN A PURPOSE FOR EACH OF US—INDIVIDUALLY!
In short, Father-God is the one who planned for you and me. He’s the Parent who is eternally committed to working for the fulfillment of His purpose in us, and giving all grace and power from day to day that His plan for us may be fulfilled.
And birthdays? They ought to be an annual celebration of God’s plan for you … a new opportunity to declare His blessing upon you for another year.
Let’s make a big deal out of these worthy celebrations. Let’s take time to give cards and presents and notes and greetings … and certainly a hug or two (or ten!). But let’s incorporate those expressions with statements of high and holy truth: The Lord God has created every one of us with magnificent purpose and infinite worth.
If it’s your birthday, take the Lord with you on a walk or out for an ice cream cone.
Enjoy the present of His presence and the light of His smile. He’s glad you’re alive …
and so am I.