"Twenty four oceans, Twenty four skies,
Twenty four failures, Twenty four tries.
Twenty four finds me in twenty-fourth place,
Twenty four drop outs at the end of the day.
Life is not what I thought it was twenty four hours ago,
Still I'm singing, 'Spirit, take me up in arms with you.'"
~"24," by Switchfoot
Today is Kevan's 24th birthday. He spent yesterday and today with his best friend, then when he got home this afternoon I got to read excerpts from The Princess Bride to him ("Here come the king bats!"), and then we had a wonderful, delicious dinner with some good friends. He opened his presents and ate his cake and now he wants to watch one of his favorite movies, Miller's Crossing. I think he's happy, and I hope he knows how much he is loved.
I started thinking this afternoon about my 24th year, and how I didn't think it was all that fantastic. I quit working with the youth group, I had a few very emotional confrontations with my students, and I spent the rest of the year fighting "The Man" about trying to get my driving equipment for my van, which didn't happen. I remember feeling a lot of frustration and self-doubt, and probably I didn't make the best decisions about how to invest my time.
But it really amazes me how much God redeems moments that I lose or mess up. Last week the one boy from my youth group, Darius, who has kept coming to church consistently since he graduated high school last year, brought two of the other boys to church who haven't been in a long time. Darius is my hero and I am so thankful that God continues to work on his heart. I learned a lot from my "confrontations" with my students that I think made me wiser as a teacher and a friend to internationals, and I've had some really great student-teacher relationships since then. And because I can't drive myself, I have developed some really meaningful friendships and gone on a lot of great adventures that I otherwise wouldn't have.
My prayer is that Kevan's 24th year is the best one yet... that dreams come true and opportunities fling wide open and that every experience is amazing. And if there are hardships - times when he wants to scream or run or question or quit - I pray that they will still be rich in meaning and purpose. I pray that God will redeem those times - just as he did Job's, just as he did mine - one hundred fold. I pray that the lessons he learns and the ways he grows will amaze him when he looks back three years from now, and that this year he will become even more of a man after God's own heart than he was before.