26

Because my birthday is on a Wednesday this year, celebrations have already started the weekend before, which is without a doubt one of the best parts about having a mid-week birthday in that all of the love gets extended over a longer period of time.

Growing up, birthdays were the biggest deal: waking up to your favorite breakfast with the living room decorated, presents that were hand picked just for you from all of your favorite people, soaking it all in until the end of the day, where you also got to eat whatever you wanted, wherever you wanted. Of the many things I appreciate about my upbringing, learning how to truly feast, as well as learning how to truly honor someone for who they are, were both things I enjoyed and was formed by when it came to the beauty of the day of your birth.

Thankfully, my husband has carried these traditions on into our own nuclear family, and has also given me some new routines from his own life that I have been able to claim as my own. Every year, he reads the Psalm that corresponds with the age he is for the entire year. After doing this for the first time last year, it has been remarkable the ways that the Lord used the Psalm in my life as it spoke something new within the same passage in the many different seasons I was in these past twelve months. His Word never fails to open my heart in new ways, to whisper and shout at the same time His good and faithful presence even when I am faithless.

As I look further down the page to my new Psalm, I am both filled with thanksgiving but also sadness; like the end of a good book, Psalm 25 captured me, and considering myself without it seems a great loss, as it really became part of who I was as it so accurately was the narrative I was living.

Year 25 had me sitting in the knowledge that those who wait upon the Lord will not be put to shame, and I thought it would mean the fruition of my plans, but instead, like Proverbs 16:9, I learned that I needed to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.

So, as I sang along with Psalm 25 in seeming tandem, I now read Psalm 26 and turn to repentance, asking God that these words would be true of me. Even within the first verse of the Psalm, I find myself falling short.

Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted in the LORD without wavering.
— Psalm 26:1

In the many places where Psalm 25 stirred up petitioning the Lord, acknowledging His goodness and asking for His grace to cover guilt and shame, Psalm 26 moves into a testimony of right conduct and creed.

Prove me, O LORD, and try me;
test my heart and my mind.
For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness.
— Psalm 26:2-3

Quite honestly, these words, though hard to read and feel like I am saying them earnestly, leave me in the right place. Although fond of the many promises that affirm and comfort, the very thought of being tested with the content of my heart and my mind confronts me with my sinfulness, my farness from who God is. Woe is me is the right response, the start of belief that can see with scales falling off what His steadfast love is, calling me to His faithfulness, and not my own. It is only when He is before my eyes, when His goodness overwhelms me, that I am enabled to move forward boldly regardless of feeling or circumstance.

But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me.
My foot stands on level ground;
in the great assembly I will bless the LORD.
— Psalm 26:11-12

Only in Christ am I able to be found unmoved, steady, assured. Never alone, never on my own, but His redemption, His grace. On a day where I delight in being celebrated, this simple routine of the same for three hundred and sixty five days disrupts my party in order to make it even more loud and remarkable. These gifts all around me are undeserved and bountiful. I will bless the Lord.

I look forward in hope.

17P0070_0062.jpg