There’s something special about the person or persons who are the first to remember your birthday each year. It’s almost as if they launch you into “your” day. Last year, the first person to remember my birthday was a former student of mine named Chanele. She called me at 12:01 a.m. December 13th and wished me and my voicemail (obviously I was asleep at 12:01 a.m. on a school night) a “Hip-Hop Happy Birthday” complete with her own rendition of the “Happy Birthday Song” in the tradition of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. I still have this archived in my voicemails just so I can remind myself of the feeling of being remembered every once and a while. I wish I could have archived what happened on December 13, 2004.
Being a teacher has its perks. Summers off. “Sympathy” discounts from vendors. Sipping from the fountain of youth every day you encounter your students who seem to be able to program your technology faster than you can say “Atari.” Ten years ago, I launched into the world of teaching, and just as quickly as I entered, I now make my exit. Amid all the memories of emotional discussions about current events and literature, the dreaded discipline referrals, the gleaming lightbulbs finally appearing above student’s heads, and the board game filled classrooms the day before a holiday break, sometimes the little things that mean the most get lost in the shuffle.
It was December 13, 2004, and the drive to Olympic High School started off like any other. Most likely with a startled awakening to a blaring buzzer and a quick shower. A luxurious authorized trip to Starbucks then ensued. After all, it was my birthday. Little did I know, but the authorized trip to Starbucks wouldn’t be the only variation to my seeminly normal routine.
While juggling my Starbucks and a bag of ungraded papers I, with wishful thinking, took home to grade the night before, my unexpectant self made my way into the school. As I rounded the corner and headed toward my classroom, I could hear students, in their opinion, whispering “Shh! She’s coming!” At first, I wondered who “she” might be, but I quickly realized who “she” was. When I walked into my classroom, my entire first period class stood before me shouting “Surprise!!!!” while standing next to a buffet of homemade food and a birthday card created on the whiteboard that read “Happy 16th Birthday (LOL), Ms. Browder” amid all the signatures and personal messages from each student.
Nothing compares to the feeling of being remembered. It’s a feeling that swaddles us with the reality that we matter and that the stamp we leave on the world may not be forgotten. I believe God, in all of His splendor, relishes this feeling too. In fact, over fifty times in the Psalms David reports “remembering” God. I doubt that it is a coincidence that every time something amazing happened in the Old Testament, someone built an altar right where it happened so the event would never be forgotten. A permanent marker of praise left an indelible reminder that God was and is with us.
Not only does God enjoy being remembered, but, like my “Happy Birthday Song” He archives it. In Malach 3:16-17 it says, “Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another and the Lord gave attention and heard it. and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and esteem His name.” (NASB) God literally leans down over the bannister of heaven and listens in on our conversations about Him. When we celebrate Him over lunch with a friend, share a testimony in church, or call someone with a praise report in the fifteen minute drive to work, God leans in, listens, and takes notes. Why? What’s He going to do with all these archives? I don’t know, but knowing Him, it’s got to be for a good reason!!!
Malachi 3:16-17 has an intersting translation in The Message Bible. It reads, “Then those whose lives honored God got together and talked it over. God saw what they were doing and listened in. A book was opened in God’s presence and minutes were taken of the meeting, with the names of the God-fearers written down, all the names of those who honored his name.”
Notice, God only writes down the good things we say. He is not making a book to remind us of when we said something we should regret. Keeping this in mind, I really hope that every day, I say something that He wants to record to remember forever. I can’t wait to reminisce with Him for eternity. I better get to talking and testifying!! 🙂