My mom and I have this tradition — every year on my birthday, she tells me my birth story. My earliest memory of it was when I was about three or four, sitting as close as humanly possibly next to her on the bed, waiting for her to open her eyes to find me eyeing her. I’m sure she could feel me breathing on her as I invaded her personal space.
She knew that the second she opened her eyes, it was conversation time. Shirley, are you up? She’d ask me what time it was, and I’d rattle off something that usually made her smile. You know it’s my birthday, right? She’d nod and slowly sit up so she could be fully-focused on the series of commands and clarifying questions that were perched on my lips and ready to take flight.
She’d usually start off by telling me what she did on September 28th — what she ate, the errands she ran, and sometimes a snippet of a conversation she had with a neighbor or friend in town. Some years I’d tell her to speed up and get to the good parts; other years I’d ask her to slow down a bit — Don’t rush through the details. She recalls that late that night, she felt it was time to go to the hospital. She called a cab, and Mr. Bee was there in just a few minutes. That’s the sweetness of living in a small town — folks are often available when you need them most.
She and Mr. Bee likely took Highway 90 all the way to Lafayette Charity Hospital. His cab probably smelled like smoke, but the windows were probably down so that the freshness of fall could waft through the air and sing its melody, tickling their ears with the good news that a baby would soon be born.
At 6:00 AM the next morning, I left the safety of her womb and entered this fallen world, charged with being both salt and light. Just as my mom nurtured me in the shelter of her womb, she continued to nurture and protect me throughout my life. She introduced me to God at an early age; but I can say with certainty, I had already met him from the very beginning.
At eight years old, I chose Christ publicly at Starlight Baptist Church in Rayne, Louisiana under the leadership of Reverend Frank. Chris Curtis and Robert Kevin Goodwill were right there with me. Three little children dressed in white and dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ. Teaching about The Narrow Gate last night at Wednesday Night Alive reminded me that choosing Christ is the easy part, but it doesn’t guarantee an easy life.
Following the crowd down The Wide Road doesn’t end well. In fact, it leads to destruction. Even though many find it, few find The Narrow Gate that leads to everlasting life. Part of my charge from God is to lead by example and to take others with me. He allows me to show my human failings so that no one mistakes this anointing as perfection. My path has always been narrow even when I tried to go down a different one, I always sought God, and she showed me the way back.
Today I am overwhelmed with joy — tears brimming the edge of my lower lids, perched and ready to break forth, flooding my face and symbolically washing away my iniquity as I am born again in this moment. Abba Father just whispered, It’s your time to shine.