The Road of the Cross: A Birthday Letter

Sweet Girls,

When I first met each of you, you were sandwiched in the middle of your school-aged years, your childhood behind, and the teen years beckoning you in, for better or worse. And for all the devouring they could have done, God’s grace has kept you and brought you to this day. I’m thrilled to be part of celebrating, even across the miles, His strength that has kept you, love that has held you, and care that has sheltered you.

Rachel, we first met at a baptism dinner where our family sat with yours. We were all new to CBC and going through the awkward formalities of getting to know each other. You didn’t seem too excited to be there but were nice enough to smile and tell us a little about yourself. The next year, you started attending a new school that God used to change everything for you. We watched you grow from a 13 year old with little joy, to an 18 year old overflowing with joy as you called to tell me your friend we’d been praying for from softball, had accepted Christ! Look at you now, seeking first his kingdom, prioritizing your life around his mission, and looking more and more like Jesus, whose joy it was to do his Father’s will.

Morgan, there is the same age difference between me and you as between me and my mom. It’s no wonder we feel a bit like mother and daughter. We have shared and had our share of suffering and sadness, haven’t we? Like the van ride home where I cried telling you it was worth it for me not to have a dad if it helped you see that God is good in all he does and that he is the only one who can be trusted to never let you down. There were weeks on end I’d sit in your driveway picking you up and bringing you to our house for Bible studies or the occasional dinner or a meeting at the church office to talk before Weds evening church. I had babies clinging to my legs, but we did what we could to get together and seek for God. And to those who have sought him, he has never said no! Look at you now, wearing mercy’s robe and that ring of grace, given to you as gifts from the only Father we’ve ever really needed.

And Laynie, our first interactions were over lunch on a Sunday afternoon in the Macy’s restaurant. You were bravely facing the fear of leaving your Mama’s tender teaching and starting your junior high years at a new school. Only God and your parents know how deep that trial was. But the love of God was deeper still, wasn’t it? I remember sitting in your living room as you cuddled with your Mom and echoed her sentiments that “a relationship with God was worth it – worth whatever – because he was so good.” I love that tender heart of yours. And how could I not also love how well you have loved my babies over the years, taking care of them for us as a ministry, on occasions too many to count? You are the example they looked to, that teenagers don’t have to be rebellious and disrespectful. That the church is where the real action is. That it doesn’t matter what age you are, you can still serve God faithfully and passionately. Look at you now, still facing your fears, but instead of fearing your circumstances, fearing the God with whom you know from experience that nothing is impossible and who always keeps his promises.

There is a reason this point of your life is called a crossroad. You are faced with decisions all around, many of which could alter the trajectory of your life forever. But my prayer is that you each would see your need for the cross more and more on this road. That all Jesus accomplished for you and in you there would become more real and precious to you with every step you take.

Happy 20th Birthday, to you, my sweet friends!

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