>David Brainerd, a missionary from the 18th C, posts over and over again in his diaries how he would often spend his birthdays alone in the forest reflecting on his life and how it is that he didn’t live to the fullest for the glory of God. His birthdays would often end with thoughts of God’s glorious grace in his life, and how good it was of God to give him another year of life in spite of his faithlessness.
I can’t say that I’ve spent any serious time alone in forests, but I can say that every year my birthday seems to bring with it the associated reflection of “what have I done with my life?” It’s been a quasi-running joke between Sarah and me for the last six years. In very much “Brainerd-ian” or maybe I should say “Brai-NERDian” fashion, I find myself repenting over wasted time, and overwhelmed by the grace of God. Last night, after a party with some good friends and neighbors, I walked to the mailbox looking up at the sky and asking God to take all of me this year. I wanted so desperately that God should make me a man completely sold out and devoted to his purposes, to be unleashed to pursue people like Jesus did with tireless abandon. Even as I write this, I feel a sense of desperation that God should do a great work IN me before He does a great work THROUGH me.
To cap off these birthday reflections, Sarah surprised me with a list of 35 significant moments from my life. I was blown away and so touched by this act of service for several reasons. First, that someone in my life knew me to the point where she could list out in chronological order the most significant God moments in my life (even if she was involved with more than half of them!) Second, that Sarah was paying attention to my annual need for reflection and remembrance. Third, that I was able to see on one sheet of paper how God has moved in my life. From the insignificant to the paradigm-shifting, it is truly amazing grace that covers every corner of my life. I’d encourage everyone to write such a list at some point because as a friend told me the other day, there is power in remembering.
In fact, in the OT, when God remembers, it always has to do with the context of salvation, and when we are commanded to remember, it usually has to do with the responsibility for obedience. With the fast pace of media, news, and technology, I think we are products of a culture that has forgotten how to remember. Perhaps one day a year, we can come back to the place of remembering who we are because of what God has done.
If you would like me to post the list of significant moments, just leave a comment (yes, shameless plug to get some movement on this blog). If I get enough comments, I’ll post it.
Hope today is a memorable one!