The Best Birthday

Mission Trip Birthday

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 had the wondrous experience of seeing the effect of my healing prayers with my own eyes: one man’s shoulders straightened, another’s hearing was significantly restored. (Technically I couldn’t see the change in the man’s hearing, only the change in his facial expression as he praised God.)

I witnessed 6 people give their lives to Christ for the first time, bursting into tears as I prayed for one of them and felt the burden he has been carrying around for so long. The intersection of that immense need and God’s faithfulness temporarily overwhelmed me. I released 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?

Being Celebrated

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 selfish for 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) 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. Wow.

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

Worthy of Love

The day before my birthday, God 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 God’s love, I’m learning that I am worthy of it.

Would God love something worthless? Would He create something that had no worth? Would He invest so much in it? My worth ultimately comes from what God thinks of me, and He has deemed me worth creating, guiding, investing in, and rescuing––not just once, but again and again.

This birthday, I came to understand more clearly how God loves me. He doesn’t see me as a former sinner who will just barely reach heaven, who will slip through a crack in the door as it’s about to close. God doesn’t see me as a mere worker He is using for his glory and his purposes. No, God sees me as his daughter who He created with immense joy and affection in his heart. A daughter who was lost but is now 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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Elizabeth holds to simple faith in a complex world. She values the beauty of the everyday and strives for vulnerability with other imperfect humans. She is currently pursuing her MDiv at Fuller Theological Seminary, so when she isn't busy writing academic papers, she is usually out enjoying the LA sunshine. She is constantly learning, laughing, and finding herself in awe of grace.

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