Not Just Another Birthday

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Father’s Day and Birthdays. How bittersweet is it that for someone like me, both occasions fall in the same month, and this year, within the same week, driving me to reflect once again on “what ifs.” You see, my dad was absent for the most part of my life.

A birthday is that special day each year when one is surrounded by family and friends to celebrate the day you came into this world. But as the years have come and gone, birthdays had become just another day for me. Nothing special—nothing worth celebrating.

As a child, I remember waiting in anticipation for each birthday, praying that each year would be different—special. I wanted it to be special because my parents and siblings would be home to sit around the dinner table together; special because friends would remember to greet me. But growing up in a highly dysfunctional home, where both parents—especially my dad—were scarcely present, my expectations turned to doubts, and later on became indifference which eventually turned to dread.

Doubts came into my mind whether I mattered to people I looked up to. My indifference grew knowing the fact that I was turning another year older and dread because classmates in school (and later on co-workers) were actually looking forward to the treat rather than being with me.

What affected me most was the fact that I grew up without a father’s guidance. Without a father’s love, assurance, and protection, I realize makes a great deal of difference for anyone, because without him, I tried to look for assurance and love outside the home.

It would be so easy for me to look back with blame and regret, and say: “How different would my life be right now had my dad been present in my life? How different would my life be right now had there been a godly man at home that I could approach for counsel and advise. How different would my life be right now had I grown up with someone who led me with the Word of God.”

Looking at my current situation now as a single parent, I could definitely say my life would have been different had my dad been present. In the first few years, I had strong fears that my child will suffer the same predicament.

But now that I have been saved and understand God’s love as a Father, I know more than to question what had been and what will be. I am thankful for what I now have.

Just as God provided Moses with Jethro as a father-in-law (Exodus 18), who fulfilled his role as a father, my child and I have both also been blessed with godly “dads” and leaders in church and in the Christian family whom I can turn and look to for counsel and advise.

I now enjoy the love, assurance and fellowship of my new and bigger family, and I’m sure God does the same for all who come into His family. With God’s Word planted securely in both our hearts, with prayer and the pursuit of the things of God, I know that we will be okay.

Today, as I count the days to my next birthday, it won’t be just another day. It’s the day that I will always look forward to especially thank God for His abounding goodness and graces, for His faithfulness in the year that ended and for the promises He holds in the year to come.

Casting Crowns wrote a song (“Just Another Birthday”) especially for people in my same situation. It ends with these lines:

Now I know, I know

It’s not just another birthday

‘Cause I’m here, she’s here

And look how far we’ve come

Since you’ve called me, saw me

Held me and freed me

Thank you, Lord, for another birthday

And we’ll be fine

We’ll be fine

For all those who, like me and my child, don’t have an involved dad here on earth, I assure you that we have the best Father in heaven. He is Father to the fatherless.

“A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows,  Is God in His holy habitation. God makes a home for the lonely;  He leads out the prisoners into prosperity,  Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land.” (Psalm 68:5-6)

 

 

 

Heart vs. Mind

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“For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”  (Romans 10:10)

The world, more often than not, places more trust and importance on the mind, believing that the mind is more powerful in achieving great things. But for the Christian, it is the heart that must drive us. Salvation is often referred to as a change of heart when someone repents, turns from their past, and follows Jesus. It is the heart that is regenerated at the point of salvation and springs forth in the life of the Christian.

“When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,” (Acts 11:23)

In Acts, Luke uses the heart to encourage new believers. The bowels were considered the seat of the emotions while the heart is the seat of the will. And because he has personally experienced that upon salvation, believers surrender the will to Jesus, Luke knows that this is what will drive Christians to spiritually mature.

Why the heart? We may believe this or not, but the mind is actually more fickle than the heart. Recall a time when you had to make a decision. How many times did you go back and forth before finally deciding? Now, recall the time you fell in love. I sure hope that it was not a question of who you will love or whether you will love or not. The heart, or will, is the source that drives the direction of our lives.

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”  (James 1:6-8)

We hear of the phrases double-minded (or of two minds) but very seldom double-hearted or willed. If a person’s faith – the foundation of his or her principles – is certain and firm, making decisions would not be as difficult as compared to one whose fundamental belief is planted on an unstable rock. Today, let your mind be renewed by these words of truth and let your heart be transformed in belief; this newness will make your will in line and in accordance to God’s will, from His mind and His heart.