Two weeks ago I turned thirty-seven. I wanted to write then, but as you know, there hasn’t been much margin in our house for several weeks (years?). And the words, they often come slow for me, until they come like a flood, and then they pour out on paper or screen but rarely out loud. I wanted to write on my birthday because I write on yours, not to sing my own praises, but to stop and reflect and start to share. To share some of the things that I want to say but just never find the words in day-to-day life when the conversations often stay on the surface and focused on survival. And there are so many things I want to say that I can’t say them all today, so they will come slowly, with time, as the Lord brings the words. And I want to post them here, though maybe not all of them, at least not publicly, because I want you to be able to find them later and I want your younger sisters to have them too. And so, here we go.
As I turned thirty-seven this year, I realized there is nothing significant about this birthday. I’m not entering a new decade of life. I’m not halfway between any either. It’s just an ordinary birthday. But this life we live is nothing ordinary at all and every year, every day, is a gift. And as I look back on my life so far, my one great take away that I want you all to take away as well is that you are loved. Deeply. Wildly. Madly. Passionately. Not only by your parents, your family, your friends. But by the one great God of the universe. The God who made you, who knitted you together and placed you in this family. The God who names the stars loves you, rejoices over you, delights in you, died for you. And there is nothing more important I can teach you than this.
But you have to do more than know of His love, you have to experience it. You have to claim it as your own by faith and walk in relationship with Him. You cannot just cognitively know of His love, you have to live in His love. Rest in it, abide in it. You have to spend time with Him, talk to Him, read the Word He has left for you. A relationship can’t grow if it’s not nourished by time and attention.
You will be let down in life. People will disappoint you. Heck, I probably disappoint you daily. You will feel hurt, neglected, abandoned, ignored. But you are not. You are loved more than you will ever know or understand. One day, if the Lord wills, you will have children of your own and you will have an understanding of the depths of my love for you and (hopefully) have a better appreciation for some of the “crazy” things we do (like having rules and stuff). But you will also realize that your love for your child is only a fragile reflection of God’s love for you, and it will break your heart to know how loved you are by a God who doesn’t need to love us.
Each of you girls has given an expression of saving faith. I know you know Jesus in your heart, but it’s up to you to know Jesus in your life. It took me a long time to let Jesus find me and even longer to fully fall in love with Him. And He’s allowed some dark times in my life, times of incredible hurt and pain, but He’s never left me. Never forsaken me. And He’s always making beauty from ashes. He will do that for you too.
Sometimes I pray your road will be easier, lighter. But sometimes I hope it isn’t. The kind of love that walks through the darkness with you can soften you, make you real, like the Velveteen Rabbit, if you will only trust the One who lights your path. We never know what God is up to, but we always know it’s something good.
I love you girls. But God loves you more. I want nothing more than for you to know His love, His grace, His mercy. For Jesus to be real in your lives and for you to know how desperately we all need Him. I pray that you will choose to grow in Him and follow hard after Him and that your path will be smooth and light, but that’s rarely the way in this broken world. So as hard and as scary as it is, I pray He takes you down whatever path is necessary to truly know the depths of His great love. I know He will walk with you all the way.