I recently celebrated the greatest birthday ever.
This year I turn 30 on October 27th. But the birthday I'm referring to is not my own but that of my son Riley who turned 2 on October 2nd. Now if someone knows me real well, like my wife for example they understand that I'm not real big into the self celebration myself, in fact I have a hard time getting really into anybody's birthday, which I've learned is an area I need to work on since I'm married.
But since the birth of my two boys life has changed in huge ways. I look at life through a totally different lens of perspective.
Now the great thing about a two year old is that they don't realize it is their birthday and there is no built in expectations yet. For Riley's birthday dinner we went to Costco and he got his own hot dog and lemonade. I'll be honest I almost felt a little guilty gettin' over on the kid for a $1.50 but he liked it and I got to deal with lemonade induced insomnia from the lil' guy. I think it was around the fourth time he tried to get me to play with his trucks at approximately 3a.m. that I swore of anything but water or milk for the kid.
The next evening we celebrated as a family with the grandparents and great aunt and uncle and great grandma. It was during the opening of gifts that I felt like once again the Holy Spirit was speaking to me about a father's love; our Heavenly Father's love for us.
Now trying to coral a two year old and convince him that sitting down so he could open presents is not an easy task on any occasion but compound that with the recently eaten birthday cake had him whipping laps around the house faster than usual. As he stopped long enough to observe eveyone sitting around watching him you could see that he was assessing the situation and trying to process what was going on. The gifts were placed in front of him and with a little coaxing he begin to reach into the gift bags to see what the fuss was all about. He began to pull out his favorite, toy cars. With oohs and aahs that can only be made by a two year old he held each one as a precious treasure. In that moment pure joy was pouring out of every fiber of his being. I looked around the room to see the looks of love on the faces of the loving relatives as they watched. Do you know what I saw? Joy and Love that may have actually exceeded that of Riley, because they understood a deeper truth. When you truly love someone you love to see them receive more than getting yourself. As I squeezed back tears in my eyes the apostle Paul's words came alive as he reflected on Jesus teaching that, "It is more blessed to give than to receive.'(Acts 20: 35)
The other profound truth is that Riley received these gifts because he is my son. MY parents, aunt, uncle and great grandma love him because they first loved me.
Jesus said that the greatest command was to love Him and a close second was to love others. This love is lived out in two ways. We love others because we realize they are a child of God and second we love them as we love our self. At minimum we desire to see their needs met.
4,000 kids died today because they didn't have access to clean drinking water. As Americans we will spend over $18 billion on make up. Think about it...we spend the equivalent on feminine face paint what would provide clean water to every third world country in the world.
So the question becomes, how do we bring Joy to the heart of God? How do we show him love? By giving to those who don't have what we do; the life changing relationship we have with him. To partner with God, see what he's up to and join with others who are going. Let's give of ourselves, let's stretch our faith, and step out and live an exciting life that reflects the heart of God.
May this truth come alive in your life. May the needs that are so vast in the world around us be met by passionate followers Christ who simply aren't satisfied with the status quo but passionate desire to change history because of their love of God and their love for others.