Happy birthday, indeed!
BIBLE VERSE FOR THOUGHT
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12, ESV
These old memory synapses can't remember anything about the day of my birth. It's mostly hearsay, what I know of it. Our dear mother told me the doctor hoisted me up by the feet, gave me a whack on the behind, and I screamed out my first breaths. She also told me I uttered my first words in the second breath---"Where's the cake?" And, yes, how I do love a good piece of cake. There have been seventy birthdays since October 27, 1949. For the most part, they have been days that have brightened my life. Each has been a short break from the routines that so easily capture us. On most occasions there have been moments of reflection too, remembering the joys and blessings of life, and being grateful for all of them.
David's prayer for God to teach him to number his days wasn't a request for math lessons. Reading through the historical records of the Old Testament affirms that King David already knew how to count. A recurring theme in the Psalms is the brevity of life: a handbreadth (Psalm 39:5); a wind that passes (Psalm 78:39); a sigh (Psalm 90:9); grass that withers or a flower in the field (Psalm 103: 15-16); a breath or passing shadow (Psalm 144:4); among others. Learning to number his days involved God teaching him the value of human life and providing instruction about living it wisely.
A Christian worldview understands life as a precious gift from God. Again, from the pen of King David we read God's word about the miracle of birth and the value of every life---
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my
soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in
secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed
substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for
me, when as yet there was none of them.
Psalm 139: 13-16, ESV
We should celebrate birthdays because each one is a reminder of God's intention for us. There is truth in the facts of life, however, that every life isn't a piece of cake. I love what humorist Erma Bombeck (1927-1996) said years ago---"If life is a bowl of cherries, then why am I always in the pits?" A world occupied by sinful, self-absorbed humans isn't always a picture of wise living. Even more, our culture has de-valued human life in our casual references to the 61.6 million abortions in the United States since 1973. What is more, murder is a yawn in many lawless areas of our nation, along with dozens of other crimes against humanity. Suddenly, life has little value in our world.
So, celebrating a birthday should be an occasion of joy and blessing, a reminder that life matters, and that a birthday acknowledges another year of this precious gift. As a time of reflection and thought, a birthday should involve moments of assessment and evaluation regarding the wisdom of the year being celebrated. Surely there are pluses and minuses in such a review of the previous year. Still, that we are experiencing another birthday affirms that we've been blessed with this marvelous gift another year. That is a blessing. And, on these special days, regardless of the circumstances of the moment, with King David, we should pray, "So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom".
Someone out there is celebrating a birthday today. The experts down in the demographics department estimate that 17.7 million people experience a birthday every single day. Let's wish all them, happy birthday, indeed, knowing that it is another day of this blessed gift of life.