It’s my dad’s 73rd birthday today. I spent it with him, but not in a way family members usually spend a birthday with a loved one. Why not? Because it was the Lord’s Day. This is the day of the week where we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This is the day I celebrate with my church family meditating on God’s Word together, singing God’s Word together, praying together, eating together, and encouraging one another. My dad was there too. All day.
We go to Bellflower and stay at the building of First Southern Baptist Church from the morning until the evening. We have a morning gathering at 10:15am. Then we have lunch. Then we hang out there since it’s not practical to drive home. Evening gathering starts at 5:00pm. So he took a nap on the couch in between. So did my mom. And a few other members were there all day too.
Did I mention it was my dad’s birthday? This might seem like a weird way to spend your birthday, but it wasn’t weird to me. It’s normal. Ever since God saved my parents in 1988 and me in 1989, this was our life. Every Wednesday we went to prayer meeting. Every Sunday School session was attended. We almost never missed a Sunday gathering (what most call “Worship service”). When our church had evening service for a period of years, we were there too. We missed family functions, social events, and all kinds of other things because sharing life and growing spiritually with our local church was the priority as I grew up. It just was.
In my life, as an adult, husband, and father, I see the Lord’s Day as the day where I must absolutely spend time with God’s people no matter what. I learned this from my parents. I was solidified in this conviction by learning Scripture under the Spirit’s leading. If I was a Sunday-morning-gathering-only Christian since 1989, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say I’d be less than 1/4 of what I’ve grown to be in my spiritual maturity (with a looooooonnnnngg way still to go!). The lessons learned, the prayers prayed, the songs sung, the conversations had, the seeing of the other regulars regularly, the friendships deepened, the personal and intimate times with God sitting in a crowd with so many other saints in Christ… There’s no way of overestimating the good done to my soul because of a faithful father and mother devoted to the Lord Jesus in the fellowship of his church.
Lord-willing, when I’m 73, if my birthday falls on a Sunday, I’ll be right where my dad was today, with my church family celebrating the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who loved me and gave himself for me. Happy birthday dad. And Happy Lord's Day.