Flag Day, Forty-Fives and Father’s Day

373_48047665398_3899_nFlag Day is finally here! Growing up, I couldn’t wait for this day to arrive.  I had difficulty sleeping the night before due to excitement.  Whether I was having a party or not, or anticipating receiving a special gift, Flag Day was always special because it was my birthday! It was a day by which Chicagoans hung an American flag outside their homes, affirming their belief in our country and perhaps more importantly, our freedom.  However as a child, I found some way I’m sure to make the celebration about me.

Forty-five years later, I find that I am elated that I slept the entire night, and grateful that God touched me and allowed me to see another year.  I have liberty through him and will intentionally wave my hand like a banner to thank him for his grace and mercy.  Just like what happens during many Flag Day celebrations across the country over this weekend, I too, am pausing to reflect and honor my history and my freedom.  While I’ve not served in the military, I’m humbled by the spiritual battles Christ has fought on my behalf, beginning with Calvary.  Due to his sacrifice, I’ve been able to enjoy the gift of emancipation at no cost to me.  All that is asked and expected in return is that I take time to acknowledge the sacrifice made on my behalf – just like Flag Day.

One consistent thread of my Flag Day agenda was physically going to the neighborhood corner music store to purchase music with some of my birthday money.  I never imagined a world by which I could pre-order music, and make a purchase from the comfort of my home, as well as share the song with a friend and not have to worry about them scratching or losing my 45.  To be even more unconventional, a great deal of music is not even purchased now, and instead downloaded (sometimes illegally) without paying a dime.  I had a handy portable carrier to make the ease of traveling with my 45s simple.  I took them to my aunts’ houses for family events, to my friend’s parties whereby we requested specific songs to be played and most memorably over to a neighbor’s house on a rainy Saturday afternoon, playing record after record, singing along with the lyrics and allowing our imaginations to wander beyond the trappings of urban living.  The 45 was cute, portable, classic and embodied distinction and selectivity because it didn’t represent the entire compilation by the artist – but instead a single, identifiable, stand alone element.  As I write and reflect on the 45th anniversary of my birth, I too, am working toward the implications of the 45.  I want to go where God directs, I want to be timeless in my worship and not serve him in a cookie cutter fashion, but instead be distinct in presenting to the world the possibilities in him despite the past that you may have weathered.  And, if I can be cute while doing it, that’s not so bad either.

While growing up, 45s were less than two dollars.  Now, they are considered collectibles and the going rate is very much elevated from the amount I paid as a child.  Through Christ, my value has increased as well and I can’t help but give him the credit.  He is like that 45 that I play over and over again and continually find something new.  While we pause to celebrate Father’s Day tomorrow, we have opportunity to celebrate our heavenly Father daily.  I for one, am appreciative of how He cares for me, loves on me and forgives me when I have clearly done the opposite of what he instructed – you know, like a father.

I lost my father very early in life to cancer.  I don’t have a comprehensive memory of him, but instead thoughts of events, actions and brief periods of time.  I’m told that I was born the day before Father’s Day and that I was not necessarily planned because there were 10 years between the birth of my brother and I.  I’m further told that he pretty much spoiled me, but who couldn’t? LOL! I often wonder what my life would be like had my father lived.  I was blessed to have uncles who assumed the responsibilities of my father in his absence, and of course my mom who recognized this void and did everything she possibly could to fill in the gap.  Most importantly, over these last 45 years, she modeled relationship with our heavenly Father in my presence and modeled taking refuge in Him. Just like any child, I hope that my father would have been proud of me and its a relationship that I’m sure would have brought me bundles of joy.  Indeed I miss you Henry Helms.  So today, I take homage to the man that played a role in giving me life, on this Flag Day, 45 years ago, the day before Father’s Day; and I thank my heavenly Father for making all the pieces fit together.

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