Before I jump into this, I want everyone to know that this was typed before my actual birthday. I do not want to boast about a day in the future (Proverbs 27:1), and I acknowledge that my life can vanish like a mist (James 4:13-17). So, I write this praying I’m blessed to wake up each day until then.
To the shock and amazement of almost everyone, I can say this: I am 30 years old.
In the society we live in, turning 30 years old is either a day to dread or a “just another day.” A common place saying is that the last “good” birthday is 21 and growing older is not something worth celebrating.
But, 30 years old is my best birthday yet. Every birthday I have is now worth celebrating and every birthday is a chance to reflect.
Join me as I reflect on why turning 30 is not a chance for weeping but a chance to worship.
Turning 30 (was not guaranteed)
On the morning of 25th birthday I was an intern at a church, I was leading a dream small group, and my wife surprised me with the great news that she was pregnant! Everything seemed to be going well and everything was going as planned. No other birthday could compare.
Fast-forward four smooth months.
I’ve been admitted to the hospital with heart issues that didn’t seem too serious (at least that’s what what they thought/said). Only a day or two later, I quickly needed more intensive care from a bigger hospital.
I was airlifted to a hospital in St. Louis.
After a ten-week coma, countless surgeries, an 75+ defibrillator shocks, I woke up to a new reality. I woke up with a mechanical heart pump inside my chest and a traumatic brain injury that left me unable to do most basic functions.
Fast-forward 19 difficult months.
Through the amazing generosity and determination from a set of new doctors, I received a heart transplant. And, ever since then I have sought to take care of this amazing gift by eating right, working out, loving my family, and worshiping God.
It has been over 4.5 years since I got sick. If you saw me while I was in that coma in St. Louis, you would agree with this: Turning 30 years old was not a guarantee.
Now, I can reflect and know that the only guarantee I needed, need now, and will ever need is the amazing grace of God.
Amazing Grace (was, is, and forever guaranteed)
The song Amazing Grace does an fantastic job of explaining and proclaiming the grace of God. It might be one of the most popular hymns because of this: The grace of God is celebrated in the good times and is a source of comfort in a hard times.
On my 30th birthday I want to reflect on specific lines in the song.
“I once was lost, but now I’m found“
I entered college as a teenager full of anger, pride, self-hatred, with an addiction to cigarettes and prescription pills. I did what I wanted but never found fulfillment. I was walking around, thinking I knew where I was going, but in reality, I was lost.
I was invited to a prayer group; they has no idea the desperation I was in. Then, I was invited to a Wednesday night get together. I sat in a seat away from everyone and listen to someone share the gospel. A wave of joy, conviction, and repentance flowed over me. I knew my sinfulness and that Jesus was Lord, God, and Savior for me.
I was found on Thursday February 26, 2009.
“He will my shield and portion be / As long as life endures“
Ever since that cold February evening, God has not left me to fend for myself. When He saves sinners he doesn’t suddenly become hands off. Those whom He has saved have the Holy Spirit, who is called the “Comforter,” “Counselor,” and the “Intercessor” (Isaiah 11:2, John 14:16, Romans 8:26).
When I became disabled and chronically ill God was there. God didn’t abandon me. God’s grace did not disappear or diminish; God’s grace remained faithful. He was my shield (protector) and portion (all we need) while I lay in a coma for ten weeks. He was my shield and portion as I relearned to speak. He was my shield and portion when I was too weak to pick up my daughter. He was my shield and portion every single moment and He always will be.
He will be my shield and portion as long as I live.
“But God, who called me here below / Will be forever mine“
Through all of the ups and downs, God has remained. Through all the tears, frustrations, and doubt, God never left. But, God doesn’t just give saving grace and continue to give grace throughout our lives. God has promised that the grace we have been given on Earth will never come to an end. He saves his children by his grace, he preserves his children until the end of life, and then he gives grace to his children forever and ever.
When I woke up from a coma, I didn’t know what life was going to look like. I had to learn how to live in a completely new reality. It was difficult… and still can be difficult. But through it all, my hope and future has not changed. My Lord, God, and Savior did not change and my eternity cannot be shaken. Everything in my life flipped upside down except who God is. And that’s all I’ll need for my future.
One day I will start my unending future with my Hope, my God.
All of my doctors in St. Louis thought I’d die before my 26th birthday. They had good reason to believe that would be how the story would end. Only God knew what happen and that’s really all that matters in the end.
I turned 30 years old and that’s amazing grace.