Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy Birthday Nigerian-style

One of my Facebook friends shares my same birthday month. His birthday was yesterday. I admit that I have never learned the technique of doing all my birthday wishes at once, nor have I learned how to keep up with all the birthdays. Most of the time, I catch the event on the backside and send belated wishes. 

That was exactly what I did for my friend. He expressed his thanks for birthday wishes and I slid in on the back side. I wished him many blessings on his birthday, and I am ashamed at that paltry greeting. 

My friend lives in Lagos, Nigeria, and apparently birthday greetings have some meat to them there. As I began to read what his other friends had written, I was astounded. These were really birthday blessings. Some of them seemed like prophetic words. "Restoration will be the next chapter of your life."  He received wishes for the "new age". This was my favorite though: "In this new age, you shall run a good race, you shall fight good fights, and his grace shall be sufficient for you all the way. He shall bless those who bless you, even for your sake, so, many more shall arise and bless you speedily." 

Those are amazing birthday greetings, aren't they?  There was none of my usual, "Hope you've had a fun day." This man's friends didn't seem one bit worried about whether or not he'd had fun. They were interested in the impact he would have on the kingdom of God in the coming year. Judging by their comments and his posts, I'm pretty sure that his will be fruit that lasts. 

Don't misunderstand me here.  I like fun as much as the next person. I like cake, ice cream, and presents. I like birthday candles, especially sparkler candles. In the light of my friend's birthday wishes, though, those things don't seem so important.  

For my Nigerian friend, his birth day was more an opportunity to look toward the future than one to celebrate the past, and that's as it should be. One day, we will give an accounting of how we spent every day of our lives. I hadn't thought much about accounting for how I spend my birthday, but I will now. 

I've been pondering my birthday greetings, too.  I want to give "meaty" Nigerian-style greetings that look to the future impact on the Kingdom of God.  In case I've missed your birthday (or more likely when I do), here it is:  "May you bring more people to Jesus during this next age than in all your ages thus far combined. May God's path be clear and your feet stay on it. May you hear God's voice clearly and heed it completely."  Happy, happy birthday!