Wednesday, December 28, 2005

happy birthday to me!

well, i'm a little late. but every year, i celebrate the day i became a child of God — december 25th. the short version of the story is that i began a serious quest to sort out the truth about Jesus in the june after my first year at university, and was surprised to find (some time in late november/early december) that i actually believed. still, i knew that being a christian was more than a matter of correct opinion; it was a matter of allegiance. would i really entrust my life to God? after contemplating the decision for a couple of weeks, i came to the conclusion that there was really no escape. i knew what i knew, and there was no way to go back. but i elected to make the formal commitment on christmas day. why? i wanted to make sure that i wouldn't forget what day it happened. little did i know how memorable that day would be! the whole trajectory of my life changed on that day.

and every year since then, i've had the chance at christmas to reflect on my life as a child of God, to consider where i've grown and where i've regressed, to contemplate what God might have for me next. at times, that is a happy task; at others, it is sobering and even sorrowful.

this is my 24th christian birthday. a quick assessment reminds me of what i already know: i am not yet all that God intends, nor, perhaps, am i even as far along as i could reasonably expect to be. i still have a bad temper. my instinct is too often not to be kind or compassionate, especially with people whom i think should already know or understand something. i worry too much about money. i don't take risks of faith easily. i am easily distracted by work and worthless pursuits like television. my intimacy with God is uneven.

but this christmas, for all of my shortcomings, my heart is not sad. i know that God loves me. i know that he is faithful, and that i can count on him. i know that while i am not all that i ought to be, neither am i what i used to be. and i know that i am in the middle of a story that is bigger than i am, responding to a call that i do not understand, in a place where few know Jesus and few seem to want to know him. i am reaching out to and loving people who are a long way from home, welcoming strangers while living as a stranger myself. and my sense of hope and anticipation is alive. how will God provide for us? how will he work faithfully with my daughters? where will he lead me from here?

i believe that a key part of my calling is to be living proof that the promises of God are true. it's a calling that stretches me; a life of faith doesn't come naturally to me. as i've said many times, i'm so much better at walking by sight. but i'm learning.

and perhaps even more significantly, i am learning that everything depends on God. he is the end; he is the means. it really is all about him. maybe that's why my heart isn't sad. he will not fail.

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