Look at that grey hair…those wrinkles around the eyes…the crease in that forehead…
Consider the bald head hiding beneath that hat…
It’s all the product of time, my friend. Of life lived out moment by moment, day by day, year by year. Lessons acquired, loves fostered, passions ignited, dreams both realized and deferred…all leaving their marks on the earthen form of the guy in that photograph.
In a couple of days, I will turn 46. I imagine I look older than that by some standards, but the eyes suggest younger, I think. They are the eyes of a man who has not stopped imagining happy outcomes and impossibilities realized. They’re the eyes of a man who has known failure, but also known joy. A fellow who has been blessed enough to know that he isn’t alone in this world.
A year ago, I celebrated what was – quite possibly – my favorite birthday of all time. At least my favorite of the past decade. Most of the significance came from the person with whom I shared it. She was beautiful and hilarious and vibrant and insightful…and she made me feel alive as I hadn’t in a very long time. Honestly, I imagined it would be the first of a chain of celebrations in her company that would stretch from then until the end of my mortal life.
Things haven’t turned out that way, and I’m wishing I could just skip even recognizing 46 because I won’t be observing it with her. That’s not a case of pouting or tantrumming…it’s just an honest recognition that last year is an impossible act to follow on my own.
My circumstances have changed. My days aren’t so filled with Hazel as they once were…as I wish they still were…but I am trying to remind myself that the absolutes haven’t changed.
I am still me…I am still a child of God…I still loved by One who is the definition of faithful.
I’ve been humming an old hymn this evening…
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!
And the words are true. God doesn’t change. He doesn’t fail me. He gives new mercies every morning and calls me to come to Him with compassion regardless of my ups and my downs.
I have seen that proven again and again for nearly 46 years.
Last year may have been my best birthday in many ways, but I have to believe that – as I seek and obey Christ – things will only get better.
Look back at that photograph. That’s a guy who has loved and dreamed and lost and fallen and found, again and again, that true faithfulness comes from only one place: the eternal, sovereign love of Jesus.