I’ve been immersed in birthday plans this week. My son is turning seven very soon and has spent most of the month counting the days and weeks until he can have a party with his friends. I’ve got a piñata drying on my dining room table, cake ingredients on the counter, and a little boy who just can’t wait to be officially seven.
We love being celebrated on our birthday—it means others find delight in our lives just as we ourselves do.
Every March 23rd, I remember a different kind of birthday. This is not a birthday for which I am celebrated, but for which I celebrate the greatest gift I’ve ever received.
24 years ago, on a chilly spring evening, I was born of water and of the spirit. My trembling feet carried me to the front of our church building and I confessed Jesus Christ to be the Son of God. My dad met me in the baptistry, and was buried with Christ in baptism and raised to walk in newness of life.
I was born again. I received the gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.
Over two thousand years ago, Jesus described this new birth to a man named Nicodemus:
[Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.”
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”
Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’
~ John 3.2-7, ESV
March 23, 1994 marked the day I was born into a living hope. I don’t worship the day nor do I hold any festivities. Every day I give thanks for this salvation. Every day I give thanks for Jesus. Even so, I always treasure this date in my heart because it is the day when it all began.
That one day—that one choice—forever changed the course of my life. My plans, priorities, and perspective made a subtle but definite shift. Little did I understand in that moment that I had signed up to engage in a spiritual war. Even with all I knew about the Bible, I didn’t fully grasp just how much God had done for me.
I did plenty of stumbling in those early years. Sometimes I wondered whether I had made the decision too early (or without understanding) since I kept falling short during my teens and twenties. Thankfully, the Lord provided parents, mentors, and teachers who reminded me of the truths of the scripture:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
~ 1 John 1.7-10, ESV
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
~ Romans 8.1, ESV
My walk has been far from perfect, yet the Lord continues to be patient with me. As I grow in the Lord, I grow in understanding of the vastness of His grace, His mercy, His patience, and His steadfast love toward me. He is my inheritance, and nothing on this earth compares to Him.
The Israelites were told to remember all the wonderful things the Lord had done for them. When they crossed the Jordan into the promised land, the Lord asked them to set up twelve memorial stones so they would tell their children in time to come of the Lord’s faithfulness and miraculous deeds. When I was baptized into Christ, I received the promised salvation of the Lord. Today is one such memorial stone in my life—a reminder of the Lord’s mercy, faithfulness, and love.
My story isn’t the stuff of legend. Nobody would gasp in amazement over the person I was before I came to Christ, but that does not diminish the power of what the Lord has done. I remember who I was without Christ, and I know who I am with Christ.
Without Him, life would have continued to be empty and meaningless.
With Him, my life overflows with love, joy, hope, and peace regardless of circumstance. God has given me more than I could have ever asked or imagined.
Today is a different kind of birthday. I do not share this with you to be celebrated, but to celebrate! Let’s celebrate God’s great love, Jesus’ amazing sacrifice, and the gift of His Holy Spirit who dwells within our hearts. If you have received this gift of salvation, celebrate with me! Offer a prayer of thanks to God. Let the joy of what He has done shine through you today and every day.
If you have not been born again, don’t wait another moment.
Believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He died to pay the price of our sin. His resurrection gives us hope.
Turn away from the emptiness of a life without Christ and find peace in a life with Him.
Confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and don’t stop confessing this truth until you draw your last breath.
Be baptized—Be buried with Christ and raised to walk in newness of life.
I bring you good news: We don’t have to die without hope. We don’t have to live without joy! Jesus has given us the opportunity to live abundantly. Don’t miss out on the greatest gift in the universe! If you have this great gift, share it joyfully and live abundantly for His glory.