[For new subscribers to the Grif.Net: on Monday-Friday we send out a
slightly warped blend of humor. On the weekend we send out material that is
more serious of a moral, ethical, religious or political nature. This
weekend I think it odd to be celebrating two birthdays. Thought I’d share a
little of my personal story (and my heart) with all the faithful Grif.Net
readers even if you’ve heard it before!]
March 14, 1948 was a momentous day for Bud and Helen Griffin of Minneapolis.
Bud had come home from WWII in the Philippines and now they were expecting a
baby. A strapping little baby boy, Robert Edward Griffin, Jr, was born at
the Swedish Hospital that morning, at just over 7 pounds. While the family
was dirt poor, they had each other, lots of kin folk, and even more love
than any family deserves.
I did not walk until 24 months. I did not talk until 26 months. They
actually took me to a specialist (a Jewish doctor) to find out if I was
retarded. Don’t get ahead of me. He said “No” and indicated that once I
started to talk, they would never be able to shut me up. Prophetic!
I almost died that 2nd summer. TB was rampant and I could not breath. So it
was recommended to put me in a tuberculosis sanatorium (note the spelling)
and hope I would survive. Once there, I was tested and found to “only” have
bronchial asthma and sent home.
Polio hit our block in 1956. It killed a couple of my classmates and
crippled Jerry up the alley from us. The tragedy and reality of death
brought a new sincerity to our prayers and search for God.
From there it was growing up during the Korean War, H-bomb drills in school
(like hiding under a desk would help) and drifting from religion to religion
– Jewish to Catholic to ???
March 17, 1957, was the second most momentous day. My mother had been
sending my sister and me to a nearby Baptist church in the inner city of
Minneapolis. There God began to do a work in my heart. Now, I wasn’t a BAD
kid – hey, I was only in 4th grade for goodness sake! But I knew I was a
sinner worthy of God’s judgment. And with the very real threat that my
world could end any day through sickness or war, I was not ready!
Guess I should thank God for ordaining my salvation from before the
foundation of the world, because I’m living fulfillment of the verse in Acts
13:48 ” . . as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Wow. All
of a sudden my feeble faith (that was the regenerative work of the Holy
Spirit) on that March 17th cried out to God to save me from hell and wash
away my sin. It was ALL God’s grace. Kinda like a baby celebrating his
birthday – the baby had not really ANYTHING to do with it! Conceived and
delivered by miracle – all the baby does is get squeegeed out and start
But that day changed the course of the rest of my life. Oh, life went on
with school, college, grad work, marriage and three wonderful kids of my
own, 10 grandkids, pastoring, and serving as a college dean and professor.
But I was “born again” – not out of some emotional hype of high-pressure
salesmanship or from a knee-jerk reaction to a movie, but an inner moving of
God that has never left me and continues to give fulfillment and purpose to
So, born physically March 14th, born again March 17th. And now, facing
heaven. All of us “boomers” are facing our own mortality. When in 2003 the
doctors said “2-3 years at the most” it hung heavily around my neck. Nobody
is sure of ANY day, but we all plan like there will be endless tomorrows.
But you know, I didn’t have a thing to do with my day of birth. I didn’t
have a thing to do with being the recipient of God’s grace. And I won’t
have a thing to do with the day that HE has appointed for me to go to heaven
– whether at 61 or 91! I don’t believe doctors and I sure don’t trust them
(don’t tell my wife, the doctor). I believe God has a plan. I wasn’t born
by accident and wasn’t born again by accident either. GOD is the blessed
controller of all things. And until that plan is complete, and not a minute
sooner, I plan to live every day to the fullest!
So today, March 14th, I was rejoicing that God has given me another year to
live, celebrating it with cake and candles (and fire extinguisher, just in
case). And come St. Bob’s Day on Tuesday, March 17th (hey, I became a saint
then, you know, so sharing it with Patrick) I won’t be wearin’ the green.
Since my second birth, I’ve been wearing robes of righteousness! And
waiting to see my Lord at His divinely appointed time.
Thanks for listening. And trust YOU can celebrate TWO birthdays in 2009 as
Dr Bob Griffin
“Jesus knows me, this I love”