The last three months in my household have been filled with celebrations. Jake and Sarah married. Thanksgiving. Baking day to honor my Mom’s 7th year in heaven. ( She loved to cook and bake.) Christmas. A New Year. Two birthdays (plus three more if you go beyond my immediate family). I enjoy celebrations because we get to love on one another. We get to eat lots of good food. I’ve certainly consumed more than my fair share of goodies recently. (Oh, and I finished a manuscript that is now in the early editing stages.)
I slowed down the last few months and thoroughly absorbed these celebrations. (What deep joy it was to celebrate the answer to a lifetime of prayer as I watched my son marry his beautiful bride.) Sometimes I think life seems to get so busy for folks that slowing down to celebrate can seem like an interruption, no less inconvenient than getting a flat tire. Maybe you don’t struggle with this scenario. Perhaps I can because my nature is to move from one task to another in my personal life and my ministry life.
God celebrates! What phrase repeats itself in the Creation account? ‘”It was good.” When God created guidelines and laws for the Israelites to point them to Jesus, He included celebrations — the feasts of remembrance. These seven annual feasts recognized God’s deliverance, redemption, rest, blessings, gratitude, and new beginnings.
The Psalms are filled with verses that tell us to praise God with song, music, dance, prayers. Psalm 150:1-6 is beautifully written. Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud, clashing cymbals.
Ecclesiastes 3:4 reminds us that there is a time to laugh. Verse thirteen of that chapter tells us to take pleasure in our toll — enjoy the people and things that God has given us in our daily life as we work and serve Him. Luke 15:3-10 gives us a beautiful picture of celebration in the parable of the lost sheep. In Luke 2 the angels celebrated the birth of Jesus.
One of my favorite accounts in the Bible is from Joshua, chapter four. The Israelites had miraculously crossed over the Jordan on dry ground. Joshua had instructed that twelve large stones be placed together as a monument of sorts to remember and retell the miracle God had done in letting them cross on dry land. The incident that these folks celebrated wasn’t easy in coming. Years of wandering and waiting in the desert had preceded it as they stood and faced the unknown. Loss of family members had taken place. Sometimes in life, celebration is more about God’s faithfulness than it is about our circumstances.
For one of my childhood birthdays my parents threw me a surprise party. We had recently moved into a new house, and the front walk and yard were not complete. I don’t recall what we did, but my dad had taken me from the house, obviously to pass the time before the party. I remember that when we returned to the house it was raining outside, and I didn’t like being out in it. Little did I know as I walked across wooden boards to avoid the muddy yard, that just inside the dry, clean house a celebration was waiting for me. When we go through a time of waiting or sorrow or challenge, we may not realize that a time of celebration is just around the corner. We think in terms minutes, hours, days, and years. God doesn’t.
Celebrations can be elaborate or simple. Herein lies the lesson to myself. I need to pause throughout my day to day life to appreciate my salvation, my blessings, God’s faithfulness, the people around me, the beauty around me…and the list goes on. Perhaps if I put “stop and celebrate” on my to do list I might actually do it — slight exaggeration. When my children were young we’d sometimes see a beautiful morning sky on the ride to school. We’d proclaim that it must be someone’s birthday and the sky was God’s present to them. I’m not sure if stored that memory, but I did, and it has proven to be joyful one and a good lesson for me along the way.
So what do you have to celebrate? Who do you have to celebrate? Enjoy.
And if you pass day to day, give me a Celebrate Challenge!
(Great! Now the song “Celebrate” is stuck in my head.)