When I was in high school, I worked at an indoor playground for kids. The place was filled with plastic slides and tunnels and ball pits, and one of my responsibilities was to host children’s birthday parties. Parents would rent a party room, where I’d lead their guests in cheesy games and serve them cheesy pizza. And, of course, the most important part—I’d light the giant candle on the cake, and lead everyone in singing, “Happy Birthday!”
Leading birthday parties taught me that kids react very differently to that song. Some kids pumped their fists in the air while people sang, smiling, and even singing along to themselves. It was as if they were thinking, “Yes! YES! All for me!” They soaked up the attention and loved every minute.
But other kids hated “Happy Birthday.” They stared nervously at the cake, or at their moms. Some even hid their faces in their hands until the song ended. Attention was the very last thing they wanted.
Regardless of the child’s reaction, every single party sang that song. It was the way we honored the birthday child. “We are celebrating you…you are precious to us!”
These days, when my kids have birthdays, I love to throw parties for them. My mind flashes back to their first birthdays, when they smeared cake all over their faces. I tell them stories of their births, and wonder at how big they’re getting. And always, I sing “Happy Birthday” to celebrate them.
Amazing, but true–God does the same thing. The prophet Zephaniah said that God will “rejoice over you with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17). Just as I celebrate my children’s birthdays, the Lord celebrates His children–even with song. The very God who set the moon and stars in their place finds me precious. He rejoices over me with singing!
God sings over His children a world away, too—those whose moms can’t throw birthday parties for them. The children who aren’t even sure when their birthday is. Listen closely, and you’ll hear the tune. He sings in the hug of Blackbox house parent. He sings in the smile of our school teacher, as she encourages the boys in their studies. He sings a lullaby as boys fall asleep, too—over those boys safe and sound in the Blackbox bunkbeds, and over those who are not yet free.
At Blackbox, we teach our boys what God is like. “He’s a God who loves,” we say, “and the God who restores. He’s the God who helps and heals and makes all things new.”
And He’s also the God who sings…He celebrates you, because you are precious to Him.
“The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)