A 16th Birthday To Remember
Yesterday was my eldest son’s 16th birthday. Time has surprisingly sped by. At one point when he was younger, this was the time frame that made me nervous, simply because I had no idea what to expect. One of the Christmas challenges this year has been to make it an Outrageous Christmas. In the sermon this past Sunday we talked about being outrageous with our time. I was blessed to be a recipient of an outrageous gift of time yesterday.
It’s been an investment of time into Zach over the years. Therapists investing their time into teaching me how to help him and in working with him. Time teaching him how to learn. Time to listen to him talk about trains, movies, WWII, the tears of sadness and anger over a dad not near. Time watching him at practice. Time watching him try something and it not working right, to success.
A little over 9 years ago we started attending newlife. This story starts with each week me having him say hi to each of the pastors, not an easy feat with the learning difficulties, and one in particular became his favorite. I can remember one time, when ‘his favorite was at a different campus’ he would come in and ask one of the other pastors, “Is he here”; only to be told no. Then one night it changed and the smile on his face was huge. To this day he walks into church and seeks out this pastor for his hug and a conversation. He has gotten better at not interrupting in an effort to get his hug, it’s a work in progress though.
Sunday, Zach walked into my office and asked me if we were going to his favorite restaurant for dinner on his birthday. As we talked he wanted to invite Pastor Dan and Miss Laurie. I told him I would ask. I knew that Dan was busy and wasn’t sure if they would be able to or not. That night at church, Zach asked him and was so excited that he could come.
Tuesday was the big day. When I asked Zach what he was excited for, it was “dinner with one of my best friends.“ As the evening approached, I saw sadness wreathing his face, a conversation with a dad not near, a conversation with step mom and sister from afar; but the smile still did not reach his eyes. And then it was dinner -time.
Normally when you are hosting you get there first & are waiting for people, somehow it got to be the other way around. God is good – I would not have changed it looking back. We got there and it was CROWDED. Then we see Dan, waiting – we have a table. Crazy. As we walked back you would have thought it was a surprise party for Zach – such was the enthusiasm. For a little over the next hour Dan spent time – outrageously gave of his time to listen to facts about WWII, Zach trying to wrap his mind around Jesus & history, goofing around with the other two boys, and talking with my husband and I. Rare is the time when Zach takes turn with his conversations, but tonight he was. He was conversing in a way I have never seen with someone else. Laughter. Smiles. Then came the birthday song & ice cream. Zach sat thru it with a smile on his face, a first for him. He knew who had arranged it before we got there – and it was not mom. It was his best friend.
The best gift Zach got for his birthday?
The pure look of contentment on Zach’s face as we left and the rest of the night was joyful, peaceful, hopeful and that he was loved. He mattered.
The outrageous gift of time, do we see the impact we have when we share of the time God has given us?
A little over an hour & a family impacted.
An hour here, an hour there over the years – the trajectory of a family impacted.
A smile. A hug. A quick five minute conversation – a boy becoming a man who knows he is loved.
The outrageous gift of time impacts people, Jesus uses it.
I am guilty of thinking that tasks will change the world. I know they matter. I know that they have a very important part to be played in the mission. BUT if there is no gift of time to other people then there will be no mission.
Whether it is a five minute conversation. An hour over coffee. Helping someone move. Asking someone to join you in what you are doing. Empathy. The list goes on – but giving of our time and being an extension of Jesus to others – the gift of time.
We experienced the outrageous gift of someone’s time, not just last night but consistently over the past 9 years, and last night was a celebration not just of Zach turning 16 but of what family is all about and why we are to be outrageous with our time. I head into today challenged to be patient and to give of my time outrageously in the conversations that I have, the people that I meet. You never know how God will use that to impact their day, their trajectory. For a 16 year old boy – it changed the way his birthday and Christmas looks like.