Dad didn’t pay much attention to his birthday, the way I remember it. Maybe that is because I was a kid most of his time on earth and kids figure birthdays are mostly for them and not so much the old folks.
He’s been gone 25 years already. He would have been 76 today. It’s funny how little time I spent thinking about him when he was around and how much I think about him since he’s gone.
One thing I do remember about his birthday is how he liked to point out that it marked either the first day of Spring or the last day of Winter. I guess he liked it that he was born when nature was reborn every year. That reminds me of the analogy the Apostle Paul used for the way we should think about death as it relates to God’s own:
But someone may ask, “How will the dead be raised? What kind of bodies will they have?” What a foolish question! When you put a seed into the ground, it doesn’t grow into a plant unless it dies first. And what you put in the ground is not the plant that will grow, but only a bare seed of wheat or whatever you are planting. Then God gives it the new body he wants it to have. A different plant grows from each kind of seed. Similarly there are different kinds of flesh—one kind for humans, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish.
There are also bodies in the heavens and bodies on the earth. The glory of the heavenly bodies is different from the glory of the earthly bodies. The sun has one kind of glory, while the moon and stars each have another kind. And even the stars differ from each other in their glory.
It is the same way with the resurrection of the dead. Our earthly bodies are planted in the ground when we die, but they will be raised to live forever. Our bodies are buried in brokenness, but they will be raised in glory. They are buried in weakness, but they will be raised in strength. They are buried as natural human bodies, but they will be raised as spiritual bodies. For just as there are natural bodies, there are also spiritual bodies.
The Scriptures tell us, “The first man, Adam, became a living person.”h But the last Adam—that is, Christ—is a life-giving Spirit. What comes first is the natural body, then the spiritual body comes later. Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be likei the heavenly man.
What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever.
But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
Then, when our dying bodies have been transformed into bodies that will never die,j this Scripture will be fulfilled:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.k
O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?l”
For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:35-56
I say Dad “would have been 76,” not because he ceased to be all those years ago, but because he ceased to be bound by time and all of its implications. There is no need to celebrate birthdays in Heaven. Every day is a celebration of everlasting life with the Giver of life Himself.
It is kind of ironic that we make a big deal about our birthdays, isn’t it? It’s like we are celebrating the finite nature of our journey. We are marking milestones on the sometimes long and sometimes not-so-long march to the grave we work so hard to avoid.
(That’s a little morbid. So, if today is your birthday… Happy Birthday!)
At any rate, I do not know what it feels like to be free from the constraints and cruelties of time. Dad may be even less inclined to acknowledge his birthday now than he was when he was here. But not me. I still celebrate them like nobody’s business.
Happy birthday, Dad. I will see you “when the roll is called up yonder.” (Yours is still the loudest voice in my head whenever I hear or think of that song. The way you belted it out helped me believe and want my name on that roll.)
Oh, and hello, Spring. Glad you are here.