The Best Birthday of My Life (thus far)

Last week I had my first birthday on a mission trip.

It was hands down the best birthday of my life.

People were healed through my prayers (their eyes shining at me with joy, wonder, and gratefulness). For the first time, I could see with my own eyes the effect of my healing prayers: one man’s shoulders straightened; another’s hearing was significantly restored!

I witnessed 6 people give their lives to Christ for the first time (I burst out sobbing while praying for one of them, feeling the burden he has been carrying and seeing the faithfulness of God to him). I released supernatural joy to a bunch of Cambodian children through my prayers (at my touch, they somehow couldn’t help laughing, though some tried hard to resist).

What more could I ask for?

But to my surprise, God showed me that it was okay to ask for more.

He taught me something really unexpected during this missions trip: I am worthy to be celebrated.

The day before my birthday, I finally decided to tell some of my teammates about it. It was hard for me, because I didn’t want to expect anything. I felt like I was being selfish wanting attention for myself when we were there to serve God and serve the people of Cambodia.

Me: Stop being so self-centered. It doesn’t matter that tomorrow is your birthday.
God: I care that it’s your birthday.
Me: [tears]

So I told the team mom (not her official title, but a pretty accurate descriptor) about my birthday, and she said she would take care of everything.

She did. She prompted my team buddy to give me a really nice massage, which he coupled with prayers celebrating who I am, and at dinner there was even a cake with candles! (Where did they find that on such short notice out in the middle of nowhere?) After cake, the team gave me cards with really sweet notes AND went around the table and verbally affirmed me. Just now, I listened to the recording of that affirmation time, and I burst into tears.

I often rebuke myself for being needy but then find God beside me, offering to fulfill those needs.

The day before my birthday, He told me there was a reason I was having my birthday on missions. It wasn’t so I could avoid having a birthday party (like I had thought). It was so I could learn that I am worthy of love.

That’s a weird concept for me, because I’m used to hearing and telling myself that I’m not worthy of love. I’m a sinner. I don’t deserve anything! God loves me because of who He is, not because of who I am, right?

But while I may not deserve His love, I’m learning that I am worthy of His love.

Would God love something worthless? Would He create something that had no worth? Would He invest so much in it?

This birthday, I understood more clearly how God loves me. He doesn’t see me as a former sinner who will just barely reach heaven, slip through a crack in the door as it’s about to close. He doesn’t see me as a mere worker He is using for His glory.

No, He sees me as His daughter who was lost but now is found. A daughter who shares in His glory. A beautiful, pure-hearted girl after His own heart.

He celebrates who I am.



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After living in South Korea for over 7 years, Elizabeth is back in the States finding a new normal. Currently in seminary, she is enjoying unpacking questions of faith in a new context. Amidst the tension of brokenness and conviction, she continues to find grace. And above all else, she continues to pursue the God who inspires childlike wonder.

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