Today is my birthday. I’m not one that gets too caught up in, and consumed by, my birthday each year. It’s kind of fun, but i don’t get nervous as it approaches, and I don’t really care about adding another number to my years. In fact, this year I hit 38! Happy Birthday to me! Other than the normal “I can’t believe I’m almost 40, where does the time go?” type feelings, I don’t really obsess about my age. People always used to tell me that I acted older than my age, and I figure that I’m just now getting caught up. That said, I do use the occasion each year to reflect on my life a little bit – where I’ve been, where I am, where I want to go, and most importantly on my relationship with Jesus Christ.
This week, as I was reflecting on those things, my mind started to wander to the book of Judges. Now I have never stabbed a fat monarch through with a knife, killed 600 people with an ox goad, or driven a stake through a sleeping man’s head. I haven’t attacked an army of men with only torches and trumpets. I’ve never promised to sacrifice my daughter in exchange for a victory in battle. I don’t have long hair, and I’ve never chopped anything into 50 pieces and sent them as gifts to every state in the union. That said, there is one verse that really resonates with me and my life from the Book of Judges (two verses really, but they say exactly the same thing). Judges 17:6 and Judges 21:25 both read:
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
The pattern followed by the Israelites through the book Judges is pretty pronounced. They would go their own way and do their own thing until things got so bad that they cried out to God. At that time, God would have mercy on them and save them – more often than not through the most unexpected means. They would follow God for a while, but as the memory of the God’s prior acts of graciousness faded, the Israelites would fall back into the pattern of doing “what was right in their own eyes.”
I find that I follow this own roadmap in my own spiritual journey. Now, I don’t generally devolve into immorality but the pattern is very similar. I struggle with placing myself fully in the hands of God. I work, and I prepare, and I plan, and I try my hardest to accomplish the goals I have for myself in my life. When that doesn’t work, I reach a point where I realize that I need to give it over to God. My prayer life gets more intense, and I “feel” closer to God. He is faithful in answering those prayers, and my spiritual journey feels like I am on a mountaintop. Like the Israelites though, as time passes and I get more comfortable with how things are going in life, I find myself drifting back to “doing what is right in my own eyes.” In my life that is trying to fix things myself and relying on my own efforts rather than relying on God. After a while, something happens that reinvigorates my relationship with God (usually some sort of trial). I start praying more fervently once again and relying of God. As I reflect back on my life with Christ over the last several of years, I see this pattern more often than I would like to admit.
My birthday prayer this year is that God would help me to rely on him more entirely and fully upon his provision and his grace. I pray that he would help me to be more consistent in my relationship with him. Mostly, though, I thank God for his grace and mercy. No matter how much my devotion and consistency ebbs and flows, he is always faithful. His love for me never changes, and he continues to rain down grace in my life. Thank you God…for another year…for another day….for another minute….for another breath!