As a refugee tutor, I try to learn all I can about my students and their background.  The current debate about illegal immigration takes on a somewhat different perspective, once you read this book, Enrique’s Journey.  I haven’t really changed my own mind, but I do have a great deal more sympathy for the millions living under horrible circumstances in this hemisphere.  We need to do more than close our borders to keep desperate people from trying to get here where they may find a better life.

Birth Day–The Best Day to Celebrate!

by J. Roger Wilson, ©April 27, 2006


                “This is the day the Lord has made.  Let’s rejoice and be glad in it!”  The Psalmist’s words are true of every single day, but they are especially and wonderfully appropriate on a person’s birthday.  No day in the year is so rightly “my day” than the anniversary of my first day of existence.  Birthdays are not just for kids, although I personally suggest a childlike enjoyment be a part of the celebration.  Yes, I know this runs counter to the spirit of our youth-obsessed culture, but I believe the spirit of the age is a spirit of death, hiding behind a wish of perpetual adolescence.  I am a Christian, and I have better prospects than that.

A few years ago, I began enumerating some of the ideas they define who I am.  They are not necessarily original although my way of expressing them may be.  I believe they are Biblical suitable for living faithfully as a Christian.  I call them “Roger’s Rules,” simply because they are the rules I follow and teach.  Three of them apply here:

 A birthday is the ultimate personal holiday.  Life is a holy gift from God.  A person’s birth is also the product of an act of love, however fleeting, and nine months of being nurtured in the womb of a loving mother.  A person’s birthday should be a celebration of love, of individual uniqueness, and of every day of life God gives, not a day to regret getting older.  Christians don’t chase after eternal youth because every day with the Lord is a blessing, because we live without fear of death, and because we anticipate everlasting life and fellowship with Christ that God has promised. 

Sometimes, I say that getting older is better than the alternative, that is, being dead.  In a sense, that is true.  Death is a curse, the consequence of trying to escape the reality of existence as a creature made by God.  In this world, life is an ongoing experience of dying.  Only children are able to enjoy life without being preoccupied with death, but their innocence ends all too quickly, sometimes prematurely due to tragedy.  This is the innocence that Eve and Adam gave up in their attempt to be like God.  Like ignoring gravity, ignoring the true nature of existence led to a fall, and humanity has been falling ever since, falling toward a grave.

However, Jesus said, “I came that you might have life and have it more abundantly.”  The step of faith into the family of God is a step from falling toward the grave to growing up toward a heavenly life.  It is perpetual childhood in which innocence is finally restored, and real living become ever more joyful.

If the humanists had their way, scientists would eventually figure out how to live this life forever.  Yet, already even teenagers have become so weary of life that they choose to end it.  No answer exists for science to find for death came by sin.  Cheating death fails to defeat the real problem, which is sin.  Living forever in sin is as close a description of hell as I can imagine.

That’s why some prefer to celebrate their “second birth” day.  I have no quarrel with that, but I am glad to celebrate the miracle that is life itself, my life.  That’s why I make a fuss about my own birthday, every time it comes around.  If you’d like to join me, my birthday is April 27, and I was born in 1949.  Thanks, Mom and Dad!  Thanks Heavenly Father!

 Age is a blessing, not a curse.  Only those who deny death and have no hope of heaven resist and resent getting older.  Believers look forward to eternity.  Life here may be brief, but it is only the beginning.  Indeed, for a “born-again” Christian eternal life has already begun.

Admittedly, I do not look forward to the physical burdens of advanced age.  I am slower, weaker, and achier.  I am bald, and I know I looked better with a full head of hair.  I have always had trouble remembering names, but I seem to have more trouble than ever.  My body doesn’t work as well, and I have to take medicine for some things.  I used to be able to walk off the extra weight; now I can’t lose so easily and walking is harder.

I like the story, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” even though its message is not Christian, per se.  The story teaches that there is more to a person than appearance.  In the story, being loved makes the toy rabbit real.  God already created us; but, by His love, life and maturity produce a reality that is deeper than the physical.  Thanks to the love of God, I am more than I was, despite the physical effects of getting older.  Asian cultures come closer to the right view in their veneration of their elders.  As I get older, I have more to give, not less, no matter the condition of my body.

I have a friend who is over 20 years my senior.  He shows more of all the effects of age than I do, but he is living, active, and helping other people, including me.  I enjoy spending time with him, hearing about the many experiences he has had, and considering the insights and wisdom he has gained.

A midlife crisis is really just a juvenile crisis denied, delayed, and doing damage all over again.  The saddest thing to see is an adult obsessed with a time of life already lived.  His or hers is a life looking backward.  At the same time, many people live with memories of hurts and disappointments, often suppressed and yet powerful at the same time.  On the one hand, they try to live in denial of those memories, pretending they never happened.  On the other hand, they try to fix what they believe went wrong.  They may try to gain the approval of a never-satisfied parent.  They may work hard to be good enough to appease an abusive parent, thinking they deserved the abuse.  They may dwell on remembered injuries that never occurred, disappointed again and again when a mother or father cannot admit what they never did or thought.

At some point, the inevitability of advancing age forces a person to give up their impossible quest.  Their surrender, often not even conscious, is accompanied by redirection of their search for love.  Their lack of love, real or presumed, in childhood leads to a childish attempt to become young again to find the love they lacked.  In my opinion, that is the nature of the typical “mid-life crisis.”

Neither my parents nor my childhood were perfect.  My folks were stoic, inexpressive Germans and Scotts.  My Dad had a father who may have been a bit abusive, and he himself had a temper.  He never abused me, but some of the things he said hurt and influenced my sense of self.  Nevertheless, my parents were good and decent people.  They loved their children and provided all the necessities, including church.  As I developed spiritually, I was able to sort out most of the things that bothered me.  I have accepted who my parents were and the nature of my childhood; I have no regrets, anger, or unresolved issues.  There has been nor will ever be any crisis.  As I live through my 58thyear, I look backward with many good memories and forward with eagerness and a sense of adventure as new possibilities unfold.  Life is good.


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