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Today is my father Abraham’s seventy-fifth birthday. I’ve never been more grateful.

by on May 1, 2014

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Today is my father Abraham’s seventy-fifth birthday. I’ve never been more grateful.

Like every good father, my father Abraham made sacrifices for me. And as is always the case with children, I was unaware of most of those sacrifices. In extreme and extraordinary circumstances, a father will sacrifice his life for his son. This past year I learned that my father Abraham sacrificed his life, at least the last two-thirds of it, for me.

When I was born my father Abraham made a choice to stay. In the best of circumstances, a child is born to parents who have already made that choice. They have chosen to stay with one another, and in that relationship they have chosen to have children. I was not born in the best of circumstances. Out of respect for his privacy, that’s all I’m going to say about that at this time. But I am writing to share with you what I have been discovering this past year, and that is that following my birth my father Abraham made a choice to stay. He chose me.

Choosing to stay of course meant choosing to parent, and good parenting puts the parenting choice above everything else—above career, above social life, above personal hobbies, even above extended family. My father Abraham was not the perfect parent. But he was good enough. He made enough of these choices—enough of these sacrifices. It is in this way I am saying he sacrificed his life for me, in that most of his life has been determined by his first choice to stay, and the series of subsequent choices to parent.

As a pastor, I find it helps a lot of people to remind them that they are chosen. Maybe they haven’t been chosen by the lover they desire, or the employer they hoped for. Many adults struggle because they didn’t experience being chosen by their parents. I remind them that at the very center of their being is a choice that has been made by God. Long before their parents’ choices, long before their own choices, the Bible places the choice before the foundation of the world. God chose us.

That this choice occurred before our time, that it occurred outside of our control, that it was made by God, all this is the definition of grace. And this grace saves us. When friends and lovers, employers and colleagues, even when our children or our parents don’t choose us, we can take refuge in the fact that God has chosen us. Even when we reject ourselves, God does not. We are chosen.

This past year, his seventy-fifth, I discovered that my father Abraham made a choice. Because his choice reminds me of the choice God made, it is a sacrament to me. Birthdays are celebrations of the gift of life. For the life he gave for me, I give thanks for my father Abraham.

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From → A Parently God

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