It must have been a very warm day, the afternoon of my 5th birthday party, for I clearly recall the smell of hot concrete as we stood in a circle in the back yard, singing, "a tisket a tasket, a green and yellow basket". Passing a little plastic basket with some great prize inside, I had Matt Morgan on my right and Michael Welch on my left - my two best friends, plus half a dozen more. After a couple games we moved inside for cake and presents. It was the week before my birthday, a week and a day before Easter, so my mom planned an Easter themed party for me that year. Every one of my childhood friends went home with a hand-sewn Velveteen Rabbit. This year, however, my birthday falls on Easter Sunday! Not the day before, not the day after, Easter day, and I couldn't be happier.
There isn't a day in the calendar year I love more than Easter. From my first waking breath, to my final exhale before succumbing to sleep again. Easter. With all the exclamations of "He is risen!" and the resounding responses, "He is risen, indeed." Easter.
No doubt Christmas is more popular, as favorite days go... but in my estimation, Christmas would simply be any other birthday if it were not for Resurrection Sunday. One celebrates His birth, but the other invites us all to be born again.
Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God." (John 3:3-5)
Two times he spoke these words just like a plea.
If only you would hear and then believe.
Still this whole concept of being "born again" eludes most skillful minds today; too esoteric, this faith-talk mumbo-jumbo. But what if one of you reading this today truly, truly does want to understand this "born again" faith phenomenon? Well, my dear friend, this post is my birthday gift to you.
Imagine with me the first birth, the one we're all aware of, the one each of us has known. It begins with a baby confined inside a mother's womb; held captive, securely, until just the right time. Then the water breaks, the contractions begin, and the mother pushes. On the other side of labor, is the birth day of a miracle. The miracle grows in wisdom and stature throughout their life. Until suddenly, on another blessed day, the spirit breaks loose, and the heart contracts, and the pushing and the pulling there in the heart to believe and be saved births a new sort of miracle. Faith. This is being born again.
Have you ever looked at an egg with life growing like a miracle inside? Life confined behind the veil of a shell. Suddenly, the predestined day dawns and the bird breaks the thin white crust that held her back from life. And the water flows.
Being born again is just like that. You there, held in the illusion of safety, there in your unbelief, a new day is dawning when the paper-thin enamel of this first life cannot contain your growing curiosity of the life to come.
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (Jeremiah 29:13)
This birthday gift is not elusive, though it may have seemed so before today, it is simply your call to believe that Jesus was born to chase us down in our unbelief, and pay the price that our sinfulness deserves. Death. You see, God doesn't want us to be born so that we die in the end, he gave us life that we might live it with Him... forever. Born, and then born again to forever life with Him, through faith in Christ.
Born, then born again through faith.
Truly, truly. One for each birth.
This Sunday I celebrate both, my literal birth as well as the born again reality I freely received because of the gift Jesus gave me when He went to the cross to pay for my pride, for my selfishness. Jesus was killed for the sin we've all known, trying to keep ourselves back in the womb of unbelief.
If you have only been born one time, that literal birth through the breaking of water... but now your heart is breaking by the power of God's Spirit to believe and be born again... then do. Share my birthday with me, friend. You don't need to have all the answers today to be saved, to be born again into eternal life, simply a humble, "Yes, I believe, Lord help my unbelief."
Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved. (Acts 16:31)
It is as simple as that. So here is my party favor, not a hand-sewn Velveteen Rabbit, but a hands clasped, head bowed, humble prayer:
"Dear Lord, I believe that You sent Your Son to chase me down in my unbelief, and to die for my sins, so that I don't have to. I believe. I give in to Your Spirit. Come fill my heart with Your love and Your life, eternal. And teach me what it means to now truly, truly live... born again. Amen."
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)