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My birthday was yesterday and it was perhaps the greatest birthday of my life. I have always loved birthdays even as I have had an awkward relationship to them. Some years, they subtly slip something like a Bridezilla charge card into my hand with such statements as “This is YOUR day, all about YOU and YOU should do whatever makes YOU HAPPY today. Everyone else should serve YOU today…as a matter of fact, what are they doing right now that revolves around you and your bliss?” Other years, but not so different from bridezilla, they take the place of high school prom. Promising a magical fairy tale ball, they actually end up filled with awkward teenagers who aren’t all that creative or funny or great at dancing and what is so great about pancakes at 2am anyway? But this year was different.

Within the 36 hours of my birthday, God gifted me with an opportunity to celebrate His goodness in my life. Now, that sounds a little out there and unintelligible, I know. But, it was more like His day, and a day that allowed me to see He really is ruling and reigning and redeeming in the present tense. Two major areas into which I have followed Him, with tears, exhaustion, at times anger and great loneliness, in which I have received push back from others and been overwhelmed with great doubt and uncertainty, were the two gifts that God gave me in celebration of His breathing life into me for 37 years. The first news will have to be for a later post, but it stirred life in me that I worried didn’t actually exist. The second was a gathering of 15 neighbors, an almost equal mix of black and white, over 50 and under, male and female, married, single and widowed. The street was not filled with cars for this birthday party because almost everyone walked. The neighbors were not just people I wanted to get to know but have already become genuine friends. People lingered and laughed and hugged. A few reticent single men in the boarding house across the street overcame their discomfort and came anyway. After all the work and heartache along the way, it was God’s way of taking a moment and saying so clearly, “It is goooooooooood!”

I have dreamed since early childhood of denying racism its dictatorship. I have dreamed in recent years of living now as we will in God’s Kingdom for all eternity. I have been struck by His adoption of me for no particular greatness in me but because of His greatness in all ways. I have been amazed and inspired by the promises of His restoration of all things, where every tongue, tribe and nation will be one family without conflict and division or distinction between race, gender, culture, possessions and positions. In the 36 hours around my birthday, God gave me a little taste of this reality, a vision to remember when new conflicts arise, new disappointments sneak up and new days of exhaustion will threaten to dim my eyes from seeing His grace.

It was a time to celebrate, to taste and know that He is so goooooooood. It was a time to remember that He is faithful and He is completing the good work that He began. It was a day for smiling, a day of a very full heart which is compelled to say thank you. It was a day where, for a moment, faith became sight. While most days He tells me as He did Mary that I do not need to touch Him but only believe, like Thomas, yesterday Jesus let me touch His hands. He is good. All the time. And I am filled with joy.

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.

Praise the LORD, my soul,and forget not all his benefits—

who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,

who redeems your life from the pit

and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things

so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger, abounding in love.

He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;

he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

so great is his love for those who fear him;

as far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

As a father has compassion on his children,

so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;

for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field;

the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.

But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him,

and his righteousness with their children’s children—

with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.

The LORD has established his throne in heaven,

and his kingdom rules over all.

Praise the LORD, you his angels,

you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,

you his servants who do his will.

Praise the LORD, all his works

everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the LORD, my soul. Psalm 103

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