Today I turn 39.

One soul-training exercise that I do: create space to remember God’s faithfulness. Part of that process is letting go of the frailty fixations of my false self (i.e. regret), and I believe part of that process is inviting Holy Spirit to give me proper perspective on what really matters in life. As I approached my birthday this year, I couldn’t help but remember a song that I wrote back in 1999, called 39 (a letter home). Anyone who knows me knows that a conceptual theme for me is the fleetingness of life, and in light of that this place is not our final destination…it’s not our home in that sense. We are sojourners, as Psalm 39 puts it:

O Lord, make me know my end
and what is the measure of my days;
let me know how fleeting I am!
Behold, you have made my days a few handbreadths,
and my lifetime is as nothing before you.
Surely all mankind stands as a mere breath! Selah
Surely a man goes about as a shadow!
Surely for nothing they are in turmoil;
man heaps up wealth and does not know who will gather! (vs. 4-6)


Hear my prayer, O Lord,
and give ear to my cry;
hold not your peace at my tears!
For I am a sojourner with you,
a guest, like all my fathers… (vs. 12)

I thought it fitting to dig into this song on my 39th birthday – the beginning of the last year of my thirties in preparation for the journey into my 40s. It reminds me of the ground I’ve covered: the abnormal amount of couches I’ve slept on and families that I’ve been adopted into; the sorrow of those who were taken all too soon and the joy of new life; the traveling companions along the way as well as the family, wife and children, whose journey I have an honor to be an integral part of; the great pains of the journey as well as the joys; the experiences of poverty as well as abundance; and every step of the way, stepping in faith…even when I didn’t realize it.

Life is a gift. Every step is a blessing. Every moment is a sacrament to experience God’s presence in our lives. Home calls to us and to pray for the Kingdom to come is to pray for Home to live in the now.

39 (a letter home)
(c) 1999 Joel Bidderman

You placed those stars in the sky
But where’s Your place for me
Feels like I’ve got a blindfold on
Guess that’s the price to pay for being free
You know every part of me
So please fill me in
Because I still do not get
Where I’m going or where I am

I’m watching and praying, praying and waiting
For the hand that carved the Grand Canyon
To come and show me the way
Oh I pray today

Pick me up off my knees
And lead me to where the grass is green
Where You are, I want to be
I will stand, sitting in Your hand
Oh, let them call me a visitor

I’m clinging to Your hem partly in fright
Because the flower that is today
Tomorrow might be in flight
I might not be staying, but then again I might
So I’m clinging to this gift I know and holding on tight