– Titus 3:5 (CEV)
I was a guest yesterday at the first birthday party for my cousin’s little boy, Andrew. In May, Madelyn, another cousin’s daughter, turned one. In fact, there have been eight first-birthday parties in my extended family in almost as many years. My cousin Tom and his wife had their first child a few weeks ago, and we are eagerly awaiting the arrival of two more babies. This means three more first birthdays to celebrate next year. Our family has been richly blessed with healthy, happy children. There’s something special about a first-birthday party. The guest of honor is always clueless on what’s going on, yet curious about it all. Mixed in, there’s a little bit of experience gleaned from twelve months here on earth. Yesterday, Andrew was set in his highchair and everyone gathered around to sing “Happy Birthday.” He looked at all the people looking at him, and I thought he might cry, but the sight of Mommy walking toward him with a colorful birthday cake stopped the impending tears. Andrew was interested. So was Madelyn. She rested in her mother’s arms with a déjà vu look on her face. She’s a veteran first-birthday survivor, after all. Andrew grinned and giggled as his big sister, two-year-old Marissa, helped him blow out the candle. Of course, the high point for him was eating his cake. Food is something Andrew understands. Experience has taught him to grab whatever is set before him with his chubby, little hands and put it into his mouth; and that’s exactly what he did. It was all good. When I think of birthdays, I think of God’s wonderful gift of eternal life. In John 10:10, Jesus says that He came so that we might live life more abundantly. What exactly does that mean? It means that everyone gets a chance at second first birthday. Through Jesus Christ, God gives all of us the opportunity to be born again. A person who is not a Christian might approach the born again idea as clueless as Andrew was about his first birthday party. Often, there is the element of curiosity. What is this born again thing all about? There may very well be apprehension. A bit of experience might even be mixed in if the person has friends or family members who are born again. It isn’t until the person realizes that something great is about to happen (think of the cake!) that he or she has a light-bulb moment. There is an instant understanding that a second first birthday is a wonderful thing. So, where does the light-bulb moment come from? The answer lies in Matthew 18:30. That’s where Jesus says: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Life for little children, like Andrew, is all about faith and trust, not experience. Andrew feels unsure about most things until Mommy shows up. She is at the center of his life. He knows that he can trust her completely to always give him her best. When Andrew puts his faith in her, he believes that life will be good forever. If we ponder Matthew 18:30, the concept of being born again – having a second first birthday – is simple. It’s all about perspective. God wants us to look at life the way Andrew does. He wants us to put all of our faith and trust in the One who always gives us His best. Instead of believing by logic, God wants us to believe by faith. Jesus Christ is the best gift God has ever given His children. Through simple child-like faith and trust, by believing in Jesus we can put our old lives behind us and be born into a new life. Jesus died for our sins so that we can be forgiven. We can start over and live an abundant Christian life that is pleasing to God, and better yet an eternal life! If you haven’t already prayed this prayer, pray it now. If you have, then share it with a friend who hasn’t yet celebrated a second first birthday. “God, I know that I have sinned against you and am deserving of punishment. But Jesus Christ took the punishment that I deserve so that through faith in Him I could be forgiven. I place my trust in You. Thank You for Your wonderful grace and forgiveness—the gift of eternal life. Amen.” Happy birthday to all who prayed. Welcome to a new life filled with forgiveness, abundance, and love. Bring on the cake! It’s all good.