Wednesday, March 18, 2009

What I Deserve On My Birthday

I'm another year older today, but I don't know that I feel another year wiser.

In preparation for my birthday, I went back and read last year's blog posts about birthday expectations and learning important lessons. Yet it seems that perhaps I didn't learn those lessons very thoroughly; a year later, here I am wrestling with some of the same warped thinking. This year it's less about who remembered or forgot; I received a surprising number of perfectly-timed snail-mail cards, and my inbox was flooded with Facebook wall post notifications all day (thanks, all!). But there remains in my heart a foolish belief that I deserve all kinds of things today, just by virtue of being born.

Sounds ridiculous as I type it out, doesn't it? In fact, if motherhood has taught me anything, it's that my mom should be the one we are celebrating today, for all that she went through 27 years ago this morning, and for the sacrifices she made day in and day out for decades afterwards! Yet on March 18, I develop this crazy sense of entitlement, thinking that all kinds of pleasures both simple and extraordinary should come my way, and that I should not have to deal with a whiny toddler or perform household chores or eat anything but my very favorite foods.

Somehow I have so easily forgotten those words I have memorized, the truth about what I am entitled to:

Thinking myself to be wise, I have shown myself to be a fool, and because of my arrogance, God has every right to damn me to the everlasting experience of His terrifying wrath in the lake of fire. So as for myself, apart from Christ I am bound by the guilt of my sin, and also bound by the power of sin, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures. Apart from Christ I am also utterly deserving of, and destined for, eternal punishment in the lake of fire...

Mostly, though, my discouragement today comes not from dashed expectations, but from introspection. Birthdays tend to make me pensive, and as I reflect today on who I am at 27, I'm afraid that I am pretty much the same person I was when I turned 26. I don't see much evidence of growth over the last year, and I don't like what I see when the mirror is held up to my soul.

So as my birthday draws to a close and I enjoy a slice of cake with my hubby (he's frosting it as I write--a new recipe I'm anxious to try and will share if it's as yummy as I anticipate...oh wait a minute, there I go with the expectations again...), all I can do is remind myself of the rest of that memorized truth:

In saving me, God also justified me, and being justified through Christ, I have a peace with God that will endure forever. In justifying me, God declared me innocent of my sins and pronounced me righteous with the very righteousness of Jesus.

God also allowed His future and present wrath against me to be completely propitiated by Jesus, who bore it upon Himself while on the cross. Consequently, God now has only love, compassion, and deepest affection for me, and this love is without any admixture of wrath whatsoever. God always looks upon me and treats me with gracious favor, always working all things together for my ultimate and eternal good.

...I don’t deserve any of this, even on my [birthday]; but this is my salvation, and herein I stand. Thank You, Jesus.

(Quotes in italics taken from "A Gospel Narrative: Prose Version" from A Gospel Primer for Christians, Milton Vincent. Focus Publishing, 2008.)


Anonymous said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMY a day late! Thank you for opening my eyes this morning to God's holy word. We are all so undeserving but by His love , in blood he shed for us , we are redeemed.

Unknown said...

Great thoughts, very humbling and so true. I should re-read this post on my birthday as well. Maybe it will help snap me back to reality too. Its hard as a Christian to live with our selfish, fleshly desires sometimes isn't it?

Marianne said...

Happy birthday, Amy! I hope it was a good one. :)

(I love your "navel-gazing" posts!)

Anonymous said...

Happy Belated Birthday. I know that is so lame. How did I miss your post yesterday, I think I was online??

You are not alone. I was just writing in my journal today that I can't see much growth in my life in the past while (months? a year). I struggle every year near and on my b'day with what I deserve. I think I even desevere to have someone make my cake, not buy it.

My Paul used to call his mom on his birthday (she passed away 3 weeks before our wedding). He had the same thoughts, "Thanks, Mom, for having me and raising me."

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!

Sarah said...

Happy Belated Birthday!

Thank you for your comment today--it meant a lot!


Bethany said...

Happy Belated Birthday. I am sure you have changed more than you realize. HUGS

Sarah D. said...

Happy (belated) Birthday, Amy!

If nothing else, you know your nature and are wise enough to realize that God is the only One capable freeing you from it. Thank you for reminding us all of God's great love! =)

Anonymous said...

Happy, happy belated happy birthday...I sooo much enjoy, am challenged, and see sooo much spiritual growth that you are making...the insight and the humble truthfulness just bubbles out...Thank you Amy for sharing your life with all of us...Lynda

Anonymous said...

happy birthday, cyber friend. i am sorry this is so late. i am only going online on saturdays these days (long story how and why - maybe my pitiful blog will explain it sometime).

Though i don't see you close up, and actually don't know you - i want to say that you have indeed grown in grace over the year. i can say that because i see your love for the Savior, for the gospel in your writing. consider this: God is doing a deep work in your life regarding understanding the beauty of the gospel. Do you love grace and mercy more this year? i think you do. that is growth, friend :) . it is sweet to see even from a distance in cyber space.