I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where the Lord Jesus was an important part of our lives (not just something we “did” on Sunday mornings). I have believed in Jesus, His life, His death and His Resurrection for as long as I can remember. I also know that at some point that the faith I was raised with, the faith I learned from my parents had to become my own. When I was nearly seventeen, I experienced a life changing moment in my spiritual journey. For all the years prior to that I believed in Jesus but at that moment I came to know Him in a very new and personal way. This took place when I was a delegate from my high school attending California Girls State in Sacramento, California. It was there that I met and became close friends with Jane Grutzik and Suzanne Sands. Suzanne was filled with the love of God and desired to serve Him like no other teenager I knew. I found myself longing to know God the way she knew Him. Before our week together came to an end, I got down on my knees in that dorm room at Sac State and asked the Lord for a relationship with Him like Suzanne had. When I go up I knew my life was changed and that my heart was renewed (the desire to read God’s word was the first sign as well as the desire to live a better life).
Have you have ever read the scriptures in the book of John that say – “Truly I say unto you unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” or in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
This is what I experienced – a rebirth, a complete change inside.
I don’t know the exact date that I experienced that rebirth but I know it was the beginning of July in 1979 – almost 29 years ago. My dear darling hubby had a life changing experience at a retreat and became a Christian on May 9, 1981 – 27 years ago today.
In the early years of our marraige, as youth leaders and Christian school educators we were surrounded by young people who had been raised in church and had a faith in Jesus but often shared that they wished they had a “better” testimony than knowing the Lord since childhood. It made me sad that they did not realize the incredible inheritance they had been blessed with. When we began having our own children we desired for them to not only know, love and serve the Lord from their youth but also to rejoice in their godly heritage. (not wishing for a better testimony but realizing that knowing the Lord for most of your life was the best testimony!)
When our eldest daughter at the age of four decided that she wanted to give her life over to Jesus we marked that date on the calendar (November 1,1993). We then decided to celebrate her “born again birthday” each year on that special day. Our tradition is that we take that child out to dinner just with Mom & Dad on their spiritual birthday and celebrate what the Lord is doing in their life. It is a special time for us together with that child. We also as a family have a birthday cake (or cheesecake as that is a favorite for some) and sing “Happy born again birthday to you”.
Today is Grace’s born again birthday – on May 9, 2003 – as we were having family devotions (and Dad was sharing about his becoming a Christian on that day in 1981), Grace asked if she too could ask Jesus into her heart. She prayed at the dinner table with the entire family there to celebrate. How special that her and her Dad share born again birthdays.
Of course I have also written down the day and the story behind their decision in a photo album.(complete with a picture of them at that age – it took me until my 6th child, Joy who will celebrate her 1st born again birthday on June 7 – to actually think to take a picture on the exact day!)
As the children grow up and continue to have life changing moments in their Christian walk, we pray that the celebration of their born again birthdays will always be a reminder of what God has done throughout their lives. I would love to see many more Christian families start this tradition. Even if you don’t know the exact time or day that you or your children first made that commitment to the Lord – pick a date and celebrate you & your children’s rebirth every year!
Happy born again birthday Gracie – goo!