Well, it’s August. Great time of year for many. Sunshine, vacations, picnics, swimming pools, outdoor barbeques, back to school parties (held mostly by nerve-racked parents ready for the end of summer vacation!), etc. And, by the way, it’s also a great month for birthdays!
Particularly August 18th. Did you know that a lot of notable people have been born on this date? Let’s see. There are famous Hollywood personalities that have been born on the18th of August: Patrick Swayze, Robert Redford, Martin Mull (comedian), and Molly Bee (country singer – “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus”). Famous political types as well: Rosalyn Carter and Congressman Louie Gohmert. Meriwether Lewis of the famed Lewis & Clark expedition was born on August 18th as was baseball great Roberto Clemente and Antonio Salieri, famed teacher of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Oh! And there is one other born on that date worth mentioning…let me see, who was it again…it’s on the tip of my tongue…oh yeah…now I remember…it’s me!
Ok, ok., I realize I don’t deserve mention amid such great August 18th birth company, but it is still my birthday! Now I don’t bring this up seeking birthday gifts like contributions to the Pastor’s European Vacation Fund (which still has a goose egg in it, by the way), but if you feel so lead of the Lord, please don’t hesitate to fulfil God’s will in your life and mine, for crying out loud!
Actually, I say all this to lead you into a portion of an article I read recently by noted pastor and speaker Chuck Swindoll. Swindoll has a wise and great take on birthdays, as he does on most things.
“Birthdays are milestones . . . significant points in the passing of time. . . specific yet mute reminders that more sand has passed through the hourglass. They do, however, give us a handle on the measurement of time which, when you boil it down into minutes, really moves along at a pretty good clip. There are 60 of them every hour . . . 1,440 every day. . . over 10 thousand of them each week . . . about 525 thousand per year. As of today—I’ve experienced millions and millions of them. Talk about feeling old!
But they pass so quietly, so consistently, they fool you. That’s part of the reason C.S. Lewis used to say: ‘The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. . . . The long, dull, monotonous years of middle-aged prosperity or middle-aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather [for the devil].’
We mark our calendars with deadlines—dates that set limits for the completion of objectives and projects. To ignore those deadlines brings consequences. To live without deadlines is to live an inefficient, unorganized life, drifting with the breeze of impulse on the fickle wave of moods. We set deadlines because they help us accomplish the essentials . . . they discipline our use of time . . . they measure the length of our leash on the clothesline of demands.
God, however, brings about birthdays . . . not as deadlines but lifelines. He builds them into our calendar once every year to enable us to make an annual appraisal, not only of our length of life but our depth. Not simply to tell us we’re growing older . . . but to help us determine if we are also growing deeper. These lifelines are not like that insurance policy you invested in last year. There’s no automatic promise of annual renewal. Obviously, if God has given you another year to live for Him, He has some things in mind . . . He has some very special plans to pull off through your life. Surely it includes more than existing 1,440 minutes a day!
The psalmist gives us the perfect prayer to pray every year our lifeline rolls around. ‘So teach us to number our days, That we may present to You a heart of wisdom’ (Psalm 90:12).
Now let me caution you. Don’t expect wisdom to come into your life like great chunks of rock on a conveyor belt. It isn’t like that. It’s not splashy and bold . . . nor is it dispensed like a prescription across a counter. Wisdom comes privately from God as a by-product of right decisions, godly reactions, and the application of scriptural principles to daily circumstances. Wisdom comes…not from trying to do great things for God . . . but more from being faithful to the small, obscure tasks few people ever see.
Stop and reflect. Are you just growing old . . . or are you also growing up? As you “number your days” do you count just years—the grinding measurement of minutes—or can you find marks of wisdom . . . character traits that were not there when you were younger?
Take a look. You really don’t have a lot longer, you know. As a matter of fact, one of these years your lifeline will be God’s deadline.”
Great take on birthdays, don’t you think?
OK then, enjoy the summer sun of August. Make the most of your time…use it wisely. And when your birthday rolls around, whether it’s on August 18th or not, ask yourself, “Am I just growing older or am I really growing up.”
There’s a difference.