Dear Daniel: My prayer for you on your 9th birthdayBy
June 26, 2012
A 10-year-old boy named James knew he was going to get a new bike for his 11th birthday. That was the tradition in the English town where he lived – when boys turned 11, their birthday present was a new bike.
James undoubtedly had spent many hours dreaming of what his new bike would be like. He thought about the fun he’d have racing his friends in the streets and the freedom he’d have to wander farther from home.
So on the morning of his birthday, he rushed downstairs with anticipation and excitement, just waiting to get a glimpse of his glorious present. Imagine his surprise when he bolted into the room where his gift would be, only to discover that a bicycle wasn’t there. Instead, his parents had given him a typewriter.
A few years earlier, James had been involved in an accident that severely injured his head. His parents knew that giving him a bicycle would be dangerous. Because of his earlier injury, if James fell off his bike or crashed into something, he could have been seriously hurt or killed. So they had to come up with another option.
Though he was surprised at the gift – and maybe a bit disappointed at first – James quickly grew to understand what a special gift this was. As Alister McGrath wrote in a biography of this boy, the typewriter may not have been what he asked for, but it proved to be what he needed: “Surprise gave way to delight, as he realized what he could do with this unexpected gift,” McGrath wrote. “It was not more than a minute before he had put paper into the machine, and started to type. It proved to be his best present and the most treasured possession of his boyhood.”
This boy named James grew to be a great theologian and author, the famed J.I. Packer. Packer has written dozens of books and articles, and millions of Christians have been blessed by his work. He has helped countless people know God more deeply and grow in their walk with Christ. Church historian Mark Noll has called Packer “one of the great blessings of the modern church.”
Who knows what might have happened had he gotten that bicycle for his birthday instead of a typewriter!
That story is a great reminder that God knows what we need better than we do. There will certainly be times when things do not go the way you want them to. Disappointment and letdowns are part of life for everyone. No matter how much you may plan and hope, very little will turn out the way you expect.
But take heart, my son. We serve a sovereign God who is not caught off guard by the shifts and unexpected turns our lives may take. In fact, he is the one who is orchestrating and guiding all of them! And even though something may initially disappoint you, the Lord may take that situation and turn it into one of the greatest blessings of your life, as he did with J.I. Packer’s typewriter.
So my prayer for you, as you celebrate your 9th birthday, is that you would grow into a man who rolls with the punches and who trusts God completely — even when things don’t go your way, and even when it may seem that your life is careening out of control. The Lord will still be sitting on heaven’s throne, and he will still hold your life in his hands. He will still be kind, loving and good, and will know your needs better than you do.
As Luke tells us in Scripture, “And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
Happy birthday, buddy. You are a tremendous blessing to your mother and me, and we are so proud of you.
P.S. Enjoy your new bicycle!