I’m at an age when some people start to dread their birthdays. They may even lament out loud that they can’t believe they’re 46! Ugh! 46!
And I think to myself: “Well, at least you didn’t stop at 45!”
I stopped dreading birthdays on July 4, 1999.
That was the day I found that Randall Parks, one of my college friends, drowned while on a family vacation.
He and I rode around town in his pickup truck the night before we graduated from Harding University. We talked about our plans for life. He was off to graduate school on a full ride scholarship, a big step toward his goal of one day becoming an English professor at Harding.
Randall was gone just six weeks after that night. He was only 21.
I’ve thought about him on every birthday since he died.
I think about him every time I hear someone complain about their own birthday: Oh, you don’t like turning 46? Would you rather have stopped at 21? I know someone who would have loved to make it to your age.
I think the Spirit reminds me of Randall on my birthdays so that I will be thankful–so thankful–for getting to go on one more ride around the sun.
I think the Spirit reminds me of Randall on my birthdays so that I will find my joy and peace, and put my faith and hope, in something other than reaching my next birthday. I learned early that it may never come.
I think some people who know this try to “live life to the fullest,” which, to them, means climbing Mt. Everest or jumping out of airplanes or swimming with sharks. I think those things can be good, though they would have no point or purpose for me.
The older I get, the more I can see that the life I have is full enough as it is.
I never don’t have enough good things for which I am thankful.
I never don’t have enough life problems to solve.
I never don’t have enough people to love.
Living life to the full is not planning to seek thrills sometime in the future; it is making the most of every opportunity to give and receive love here and now. Right here. Right now.
One simple act of love transfigures the ordinary into the extraordinary.
Making a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your kid can be as transcendent as a pilgrimage to any holy place.
Jesus taught us that all of it is holy. All of it is sacred.
All of it is special.
Choose to live like it today.
Grace and peace.