Everyone who knows me knows that I love a good party. That’s right. Do we even need a reason to celebrate? Reuniting with an old friend? Dentist appointment went well? Ice cream is on sale? Your two year old is potty trained. . .finally?! You got that stain out of the carpet? Your mom went to Florida on vacation? I mean, whatever the reason, I want to celebrate with you!
Obviously, there are big, mile marking celebrations. I have been to unbelievable wedding ceremonies. I have witnessed the celebration of 50 years of marriage. I have known people that have celebrated a century of life on this planet. And, I don’t think there are even proper words for the celebration of birth. That is one of the most wonderful things that I have experienced ever.
If you are a follower of the Lord, celebration has been woven into your history. Some of my favorite celebration scriptures are:
2 Sam 6:14 “And David danced before the Lord with all his might.”
Psalm 126: 2 “Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy.”
Luke 15:23-32 “And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again.”
1 Cor 5:8 “Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Each time that God spared his people, provided for his people, or delivered his people, he instructed them to celebrate his faithfulness to them. Whether it’s Purim, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover, or something else, they are all festivals commemorating something that the Lord had done. Celebration has been woven into the plan since the beginning. It ties us to a beautiful narrative. That narrative began with a perfect relationship in the garden, continued through sin and suffering, saw Jesus come to earth and sacrifice himself for us, and all leads up to the Wedding feast of Jesus with his Bride, the Church. How can we not be willing to and excited about joining in this celebration?
Celebration is not just a good time, a laugh, or a party. Celebration is also something inside, something internal. It is a remembrance of the good God has done being stored in our hearts so that true joy will come out. I have friends in recovery that remind me that every day is a gift. Every day there is reason to remember what the Lord has done for us. When those dark times come, the true joy that we have in Jesus will make those moments more tolerable.
Celebration and “storing up joy” makes us strong. It hold us up when we are weak. It helps us to allow God to carry those burdens when we are having a hard time carrying them ourselves. I have been in hospital rooms and funeral homes with joyful Christians, and have sometimes wondered where in the world did that joy come from? But with this discipline it helps us out of the dark times faster, and even shows others the power and majesty of our God.
So, how are you at this discipline? How do you do with celebration and joy? What can you do to strengthen these muscles? Here are some things that I do:
Laugh. I love to laugh. Thankfully, I’m married to one of the funniest people on earth, and I have some pretty funny kids, too. Spend more time laughing, and you’ll see life differently.
Worship. Oh, how I love to worship. You could very well see me drive by you with tears streaming down my face and my hands pretty much through the sun roof. And the tears are actually happy, thankful tears. Listen, I don’t care what your voice sounds like, belt it out. Sing. Smile while singing. Engage in worship. It’ll change you.
Dare I say it? Celebrate. Celebrate everything and everyone. Spread joy. Love. Celebrate the little things and the big things. Savor everything. That cup of hot coffee in the morning? Savor it. The cool, crisp air? Savor. Someone gave you a discount on a day when you really need an extra couple of $? Enjoy. Enjoy the favor of the Lord each time that it shines upon you. Savor it and store it up. Celebrate the Lord, and allow yourself to be filled with true joy.
Do a couple (or all) of these things, and when the dark days come the joy of the Lord will truly be your strength.