The Best Birthday Ever

IMG_2919 (3)I recently turned seventy and the best birthday present ever was to see my son and worship side by side in church, my husband on one side, my son on the other. I thanked God for my son’s miraculous healing. For it truly was a miracle. It was the gift of God’s grace.

I have mentioned in these pages my son’s surfing accident in Costa Rica in early March when he dove into shallow water and the horrific days that followed. It is a miracle that he is alive. The surgeon told him he was given a second chance, a new life, for the surgeon had never seen anyone survive such a neck injury before.

Many of you, my dear readers, prayed for him in those difficult days. It made all the difference. Thank you, my prayer warriors, for you must have stormed Heaven’s gates.

When I saw my son on my birthday, I was grateful. There was no sign of injury. He appeared the same, walking normally, acting normally, healthy, with surgical scars on his neck, front and back, that will remind him of his ordeal and his second chance. My little boy, now 6’3″, forty-four, father to two precocious and precious adolescents, husband to a wonderful woman, had survived. Like the centurion’s servant and Jairus’ daughter, my son lived. And he now carries within him a certain glow, a reborn love. He reached for God and God touched him.

I reached for God in those days following the accident.

There are times in life when my soul reaches into the dark, groping for God. It is easy to find God in Scripture, in the Eucharist, in church, in other people. But in the night-time of our days, when danger growls from the surrounding jungle of our lives, we reach in prayer. We reach for the light, the light of love, of reason, of faith, of truth. We reach for meaning, for answers, so that we might understand suffering. We call, “Lord Jesus, help me.” We cry, “Lord Jesus, have mercy upon me, a sinner.” We pray, “Our Father, who art in Heaven…” And he hears us, as he promised.

When I reach into the dark for God, I know he is there, taking my hand. I don’t always feel it, don’t always experience him, but I know he is there. It is this knowledge that Christians own. It is this certainty that they enjoy. It is this joy that is theirs. The world does indeed make sense after all. It follows natural laws ordained by its creator: laws broken in Eden, but rejoined by Christ on Calvary when he redeemed our brokenness with his death and resurrection. Christ civilizes the jungle outside and within, with his own sacrifice. He atones, making us at-one with him.

My flesh is thinning. I am feeling my age. I move slower, reflect longer, and practice loving others more. I am a child of God, a small part of the redemption of the world, no small thing. When I dive into the shallow waters of this world, when I break the laws of nature and of God, when pride ravages humility, when I ignore God’s commandments of life and welcome Eden’s sins of death, I find myself in the darkness of midday, reaching. I know if I can touch the hem of Christ’s garment it will be enough. He will heal me, for he knows I am too frail to heal myself. He is the master surgeon.

And so on my seventieth birthday we celebrated life. We celebrated eternity. We celebrated our very breath, our bodies, our blood. As my granddaughter lit the candles on the cake I considered my wish. I prayed that grace, abundant grace, amazing grace would visit us all, would cover us and protect us from the dark. For as my bishop often said, “All is grace.”

As I blew out the candles I knew it was true. All is grace. Every single month, day, and hour of my seventy years on this earth has been redeemed by God’s amazing grace.

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