When I woke up this morning, I jumped out of bed and knelt down to recommit my life to the Lord. Why? Because I turned forty today. Wow, seriously old! When I was a teen and in my twenties, I thought forty was simply ancient… and so now I’m ancient! This is what I prayed:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that I’m still alive. During the war in Burundi, I never thought I’d make it to thirty, let alone forty, and yet here I am, still going strong. Every day is a gift. I praise your name. You are the Giver of all things. I’m overwhelmed with your grace in my life, in giving me luscious Lizzie and precious Zac, Grace and Josiah to share the adventure with. So blessed. Lord, I surrender myself afresh to you, laying it all down. Take my heart, mind, soul, strength. All I am, have, desire, hope for is yours. Glorify yourself in and through me. Have your way in my life. However long you give me, may I not settle for anything less than total commitment to your cause. May I finish strong for your glory. Thank you Jesus!
And it just so happens that today is not only my fortieth birthday, but more significantly is the day the last Guillebaud in a generation died. This morning, Great Aunt Veronica slipped into God’s presence at the age of 91. She was a rock of faith. She was actually my most faithful corresponder, first by snail mail to Africa and then later even getting to grips with email in her late 80s. Three of her siblings gave their whole lives to the Lord in Africa, amongst other things translating the Bible into languages in Rwanda, Burundi and the Sudan. She sometimes put herself down when she spoke to me, like she was a lesser Christian. But no, she ran her race.
Selfishly, the reason I will miss her most is for her prayers. Maybe she prayed for me every day of my life until today. If not, I’m more confident that she covered my back for the last fifteen years. Every day. Could someone else step up to fill the breach please? Thanks Veronica, God bless you so much, enjoy the party!
And so strangely, as I reflect on this milestone day for me, and for the Guillebaud lineage, what do I desire the most in the coming season? I mean, what an amazing life God’s given me so far! I’ve had the privilege to travel the world (am preaching in Canada right now) sharing Christ, I’ve written books which have by God’s grace touched people on all continents, I’m privileged to be part of a significant nation-shaping move of God in Burundi even now, but honestly, I’m challenged today afresh by Veronica. In this coming season, I think I’m asking the Lord for something rather simple and foundational.
The disciples asked for it. They knew they needed it. They didn’t ask Jesus to teach them to preach, or to cast out demons, or to heal the sick – all of which they got to do – but they did ask him to teach them to pray.
So Lord, here I am, 40-years-young, still alive and well, doing OK but nowhere near what I’d like to be for you, dissatisfied with not seeing more fruit in my life, striving for authenticity but deeply aware that I can talk a better game than I’m willing to deliver, yet honestly wanting nothing more than to be in the heart of your will.
Teach me to pray.