Today is my eldest son’s birthday. I was tempted to call him at 12:59 a.m. to honor his arrival in this world thirty-four years ago. So many memories and milestones for each of us over the course of thirty-four years.
I often say that birthdays are reminders that we are a unique, unrepeatable miracle of God. I really believe this. While science doesn’t dwell on the miraculous, the more that’s uncovered in understanding the complexity and intricacy that comprises our bodies, minds, and souls, the more we are in wonder and awe. There are more than 6.995 billion people in the world and no two are exactly alike. Our fingerprints alone are unique to each of us. When you take into account everyone now alive and everyone who has gone before, and still no two have ever been alike, that just about borders on miraculous!
What is even more astounding are the possibilities and potential that await us at our birth. I’ll never forget the overwhelming feeling of holding this precious little baby, my son. I’d study him as he slept or gaze on him in wonderment when he lay in my lap when I was studying. I was so young myself. I couldn’t even begin to fathom what lay ahead for him.
The greatest gift I think we can give our children is nurturing them and allowing them to become who they are. They may have essences of us as their parents, but they are wholly their own unique beings. They are not extensions of us nor are they beholden to bring meaning and purpose in our lives. Our parental responsibility is to create a safe and loving environment that enables our children to develop and thrive. Ultimately we release them to sail on their own, letting them know there will always be a safe harbor for them if needed.
There is a psalm in the bible that describes, in poetic language, the intimate and inescapable connection between God and ourselves. The poet wants to convey that we are never far from the heart and thoughts of God.
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you (Psalm 139:1-18).
My son has his own life. Unfortunately, I live far away and don’t get to see him very often. Yet, as with the psalmist, he is never far from my heart and thoughts. With each passing birthday of his, I am reminded and thankful for him … a unique, unrepeatable miracle.