Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Call That Never Comes

Today is a day like no other. Correction, today is a day that is unique unto itself compared with the previous 364 days in the year, but last year on this day, it was relatively the same as it has become this year. Today, October 31st, is a day marked by significance. Today is Reformation day, true. Today is Halloween, also true. Today also marks the day that caused a minor reformation (at least in my own household) when at 8:45am on the maternity ward of Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, IL I came bursting forth into glorious day to let the world know that I have finally arrived. That was twenty-eight years ago today. Sixty-six years ago today an event of similar proportions occurred in a small town in Missouri when Kenneth Leroy Armstrong was born. I am Kenneth C, my father is Kenneth L and therein lies the problem.

It was always a special occasion in my young life knowing that there was one thing in this world that I shared with my father alone and no one else. Others could have the same hair or eye color, his physical build, and his sense of humor (dry wit as it may be – OK, I got that one too). Others could share in his activities, his hobbies and interests, his business, his time, his affections, and even his home, but no one else could share his birthday. That is where I became uniquely special all to myself. This was not uniqueness in the sense of selfishness, but simply a uniqueness that allowed him and me to have something that no else could completely understand.

My family has an odd unspoken tradition that has been around for as long as I can remember. Every year each member of the family will call the birthday celebrant and sing – yes sing – “Happy Birthday” to them. Even if we get an answering machine, we still sing and make merry for the other. My wife thinks this rather peculiar; I am actually quite fond of the custom. And so, each year would pass with the multiple phone calls and multiple birthday celebrations being sung to my tune. However, there was always one call that was different and somehow a little more special than all the rest. Not that the others were not unique and valuable, but this one call was set apart because not only was I sung to, I also had the opportunity to sing. My father would call (or I him – whoever won the race) and the originator would sing first followed by the recipient. He was the only one in the world that would sing to me and then I him for the very same reason – we simply shared the same birthday.

I received my last birthday call from him on my eighteenth birthday, October 31st, 1997. He died eighteen days later at the age of fifty-six. It was not until I celebrated my birthday in 1998 that I really realized how special this call was, for it was this year that the call did not come. And since that time my birthday has never been the same. I cannot think about it without thinking about him. I cannot remember birthdays past without replaying the various phone calls and the dual singing. And now I think of the call that never comes. My mother will call, my sister, my brother, all singing “Happy Birthday” in the best off-key that they can (since no one in the world really sings the tune correctly). Other friends will call with well wishes and I appreciate each greatly. But I desire earnestly the call that never comes. To have him know my wonderful wife and the joy that she brings me. To have him know his future grandchildren should the Lord choose to bring such blessings into our lives. To have him sing to me. This day is like the days that have passed over the last ten years. I continue to wait for the call that never comes.

However, (and this is good news!) there is a call that has come and will continue to come for all time. This was the call of Christ bidding me come to Him for salvation. It was the call of the One who gives the dead life. Not to the dying, but the dead. He sent forth His word to break down the door of my heart and He called me to His side for all eternity. I wait for a call that will never come, but I wait with hope because of a call that has come - and will one day come again, knowing that “the LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing” (Zeph 3:17). And that is all the “Happy Birthday” singing I need.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What a lovely post.