Birthdays make us think of presents, cards, well-wishing messages on Facebook, cake! But once we hit “certain” age, with every birthday also comes reminiscing. We think about the way things used to be. We think about all the things we’ve done and we wish we hadn’t. We think about all the things we wish we had done, but never did. We think about the dreams that have yet to come true. We remember the desires of the heart that faded with the years. We question our choices. We ponder the future. And if we allow ourselves to wallow in the melancholic waters of our “what ifs,” rather than a celebration, our special day can turn out to be a pretty miserable occasion.
Jesus talked about a special birthday too. Not the one that marks the day we see the light for the first time as we come out of our mother’s womb, but the one when we see His Light…the day we are born again.
Our second birth is the day, as Jesus explained it to Nicodemus, when we “are born of water and the Spirit.” John 3: 6
It is the day the Holy Spirit comes into us to dwell in us. It is the day the miracle of holiness becomes real in our soul; the holiness of Christ in us. It is the day that the chasm, the great divide between us and God is bridged by Jesus’ saving actions becoming true in our lives. It is the day of our adoption into God’s family.
As Jesus continues in John 3: 6-8
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
This new birth, as Jesus points out, is not of our own doing. It is divine. It does not depend on us. It is an act of God. Like the wind, like our birthday, we don’t create it, we don’t know how to control it…we just feel it…we just receive it…we just enjoy it…we just celebrate it.
So if for whatever reason birthdays are beginning to weigh heavily on your shoulders, think of them as another opportunity to celebrate the miracle of your second birth on this earth. Let’s see it as a chance to realize that although the dreams of our youth may seem to get farther and farther away from our grasp, the reality of an eternity in paradise never dissolves with the years, but rather becomes ever more real.
Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. John 3: 3