A Day of Grace

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To listen to this reflection as a podcast, click here.
Every day of the year is special.
Take today, for instance. 
May 8, for no apparent reason, is National Have a Coke Day.  And National Student Nurse Day.  And National Give Someone a Cupcake Cake.  And National No Socks Day.  And National Report Government Contractor Fraud Day (yikes).  And National Animal Disaster Preparedness Day, which is easy to remember for those of us whose pets are pretty much a disaster waiting to happen every day.
Some days, such as December 7 and July 4, acknowledge great moments in history. 
Other days spotlight great moments in your own history, such as a wedding anniversary.
But there is one day every year when you celebrate what was arguably the most helpless 24 hours of your life.
That special day is your birthday.
Your birthday commemorates the hour in which the most important thing you did was take your own first breath.
On that day there was nothing else to accomplish on your personal To Do List.  You were weak.  And uneducated.  And slimy.  And slow.  And uncoordinated.  And high maintenance.  And speechless.  Although it’s a pretty good bet you weren’t entirely silent.
In other words, the day you arrived in the world was a day of pure grace.  All you had to do was breathe.
It may be that your arrival was an occasion of boundless joy.  Perhaps you were the answer to your parents’ most fervent prayers.
Or you may have come into the world, as far as your parents were concerned, as an unintended, unwanted, unwelcomed interruption.
Martin Heidegger, the 20th century German existential philosopher, taught the notion of “thrown-ness.”  Every human being, Heidegger believed, experiences the sensation of being thrown, or hurled unceremoniously, into the meaninglessness of existence.  After all, not one of us had any choice as to parents, circumstances, ethnicity, geography, or generation. 
But there’s another way to grapple with the meaning of our lives. 
We can reflect deeply on these words of the psalmist: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made… My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:13-16). 

Every year, your birthday is a reminder that your life was intended by God.  And you did nothing to deserve that.
You were not thrown into meaninglessness.  You were invited into the drama of God’s Story.  Not because of anything you might have done, or might still do.  But simply because you are.
That’s pure grace.
So take off your socks, give a cupcake to a student nurse, and have a Coke.  And thank God that you were personally invited to join the party that only he could throw. 
Oh, one other thing:  Did you know that if you live to be 100, you receive a card from the White House?  So what do you have to do to deserve an honor like that?
Just stay alive one day at a time, beginning with this May 8.  By God’s grace, keep doing what you have done from the beginning.
Just breathe.