An old friend of mine shared this video on Facebook this morning and well…I watched it…and well…you should too!
To summarize, this boy was over the moon, ugly crying, happy about a birthday cake that he received from his adoptive parents for his birthday. Apparently something he had never had before.
You and I, while it might give us a quick gut check (and maybe draw out a few tears) might scratch our heads over someone responding like this to a birthday because for most of us this is a fairly normal thing and perhaps even something we’ve grown to expect over the years. We would probably even find it weird to have a birthday without birthday cake (or presents and parties).
But not this boy.
He had no idea you got birthday cakes on your birthday.
He had no idea that you’re supposed to blow the candles out.
He had no idea that when you blow the candles out you’re supposed to “make a wish”.
This boy had no concept of what the “normal” birthday experience was.
He had no idea what he was missing out on all those years.
Can you imagine that?
Imagine growing up never having a birthday or people who cared that you had a birthday. Imagine going year after year knowing that there was this day that you were born marked on a calendar, but no one cares, and the one who should care gave you up for unknown reasons. And then suddenly finding yourself surrounded by people who CHOSE you to be their child, and they are heaping love and joy on you just because you were born.
If you pay close enough attention you will see that this boy wasn’t just elated over a cake…he was on cloud 9 because he now has parents…he’s a young teenage boy, and he finally has a family to call his own. A family that didn’t just see a date on a calendar and pass it by, but took the time to celebrate him and his existence. This is why, when they brought out the cake, he burst into tears and ran to hug his dad and mom.
This cake meant more to him than simply a sweet birthday treat.
This cake represented everything he’s ever desired but never had…until now.
Everyone has a story
Of course, this got me wondering…how many things or people in our lives do we take for granted simply because we’ve always had them? Could we imagine a life without parents? Could we imagine a life without birthday cakes or making a wish over birthday candles and blowing them out? Could we imagine not having these “things” and then imagine our response when people who didn’t give birth to us choose us out of a room of other kids to be their own and then take moments to celebrate our life?
Video’s like this remind me that my story isn’t the same as others and it challenges me to dig deeper to find a greater level of compassion for others. I’m not especially great at it…but I want to be better.
But because everyone has a story, and because they are all different, we can’t just assume that when someone responds to something differently, or understands something differently, that they are doing so because they know “right from wrong” or “normal from abnormal”.
Unfortunately, we Christians do this with the world all the time.
We look at non-Christian people engaging in things that we know to be sin or contrary to what the Bible teaches, and get mad at them for not doing the right thing and say silly things like “They should know better!”
But should they?
Let me paint a picture real quick – when this family adopted this boy and threw him a birthday party and he reacted in an unconventional way, should they have gotten frustrated and been like “You should’ve known what birthday parties are like. Why are you acting this way?”
The short answer is no – to both things.
Like this boy, the unbelieving world does not know what it’s like to be plucked out of the world by the Creator of all things and adopted as one of his own. They do not know what it’s like to have the Holy Spirit living inside of them, convicting them and guiding them toward better things. They do not know what it’s like to have been forgiven so much and given a new life…a life as sons and daughters of God.
Do not forget
And yet, we seem to always forget who we are and where we came from and suddenly find ourselves being appalled by a world that acts like…well…the world.
I say we because we (all Christians) do it from time to time. We seem to forget, from time to time, where we came from: that we too had been orphaned, at one point. in a world that didn’t actually care for or about us but we were then adopted out of this world (and our past sins) into an unbelievable family that spans the globe and eternity.
Do not forget where we came from, Church.
We are not better than the world.
We were just rescued from it and God wants to do the same with all people (2 Peter 3:9). We haven’t done anything special to earn this (Ephesians 2:8), but God, filled with mercy, grace, and kindness, reached down from heaven and lifted us out and gave us a new name – the name of “son” and “daughter”.
And if you forget, maybe go watch this video again and be reminded of how God adopted you and celebrated you…and remember how he wants to do the same for others.
Then go, and be the voice, hands, and feet of God to a hurting and dying world that doesn’t know what they are missing out on. Show them what it means to be a son or a daughter of God. Show them the love of Jesus and in doing so, be Jesus to them.
Then stand back and watch as God uses the love you poured out on others as an example of how He too will pour His love out on them, and see what God will do to radically and eternally turn their world upside down.