Embracing Spiritual Disciplines: Celebration

Most people will identify 7th or 8th grade as one of their worst years. I loved 8th grade! I had a nice group of friends, teachers who invested in me, and a church community where I felt at home. My 8th grade graduation was a great day. It was 1983 and the feathered hair thing was all the rage. I tried my best with my uncooperative hair. I was wearing a white eyelet dress my mother made me. I tottered on heels that weren’t high, but were far higher than I could handle. During the ceremony, I received two awards that I wasn’t expecting. My all-time favorite teacher gave me one of them.

After the graduation the whole family gathered for ice cream at a favorite local shop. It was a simple celebration. We didn’t have a big party. We didn’t spend a lot of money. No one stressed out or tried to impress anyone. But I felt celebrated. We were acknowledging how God had been working in my life as I grew and matured. It was a day filled with joy!

We have spent the past month talking about spiritual disciplines. We talked about confession, Bible study, prayer, and service. Today we are talking about celebration. God will honor your work to incorporate these into your life. The results of growing in these areas are undeniable. One of the best results is joy! We will find our lives full of joy even when the circumstances of our lives don’t change. So it is fitting that we end the series with celebration.

The relationship between joy and spiritual disciplines is complementary. Both these statements are true:

  • We should come to the disciplines with joy.
  • Joy is the result of doing the disciplines.

A cause and effect thing is going on here…in both directions. Incorporating the spiritual disciplines leads to more joy in your life. Who doesn’t want more joy?

Then he said to them, “Go your way. Eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions to anyone who has nothing ready, for this day is holy to our Lord. And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
— Nehemiah 8:10

As Richard Foster says, “Joy makes us strong.” Think about that for a minute. How does joy make us strong? A joyful heart is one that is looking for and finding God’s fingerprints on all aspects of her life. When you see God working in your life, scary things aren’t so scary. You have strength to face the next trial because you observed how God worked through your last trial. You know that God will be with you and you will survive it, no matter how hard.

Another result of feeling more joy is an increase of our desire to celebrate. We will want to celebrate more and we will find more things to celebrate. At the root of all our celebrations should be a grateful and thankful heart. We should desire to praise God for all he has done. Celebrations are an acknowledgement that all good things come from God. He is worthy of praise.

Think about what Dorothy Greco said in an online article from Relevant Magazine:

The very act of celebrating anchors us in a deeper story—one that precedes any current hardship or pain. God’s narrative goes back to the Garden when He formed us from the dust and called us into loving relationship with each other and with Him. It continued when Jesus became flesh and assumed all of our sin and brokenness so that we could enjoy fellowship with the Trinity. It will culminate in, yes, a celebration—the wedding feast of Christ with His bride, the Church.
— Dorothy Greco

Our celebrations on earth give us a tiny glimpse into the joy we will experience what Christ comes again. Then we will be able to live eternally with him.

Celebrations include the biggies: Christmas and Easter, birthdays and Mother’s Day. But they also should include the little things in lif; the finishing of a big project, a friendship made, a hard task completed, the first snow, or getting through the first day at a new job.

Celebrations don’t have to be big, expensive or time consuming. A celebration might be a round of applause from the whole family and a prayer of thanksgiving. Let the person of honor choose what is for dinner, or where to go for dessert. A surprise take-out lunch delivered to your child’s school or freedom from a chore for a day could honor a child. I find a hand-written note or an unexpected email from my husband to be tender and meaningful. When I was growing up, my mom put out a red plate that said “You are special today” for every celebration, big or small. The honor of eating off that plate made even a basic meal special.

Celebrate everything. Life with Christ is a joy! We have freedom, we have peace, we have hope in an eternal future! Our sourpuss faces and judgmental reputation don’t let the world know what joy it is to be a Christian.

It is an internal attitude that spills out into our external lives. This should be visible to those around us.

Are you characterized by joy?

Find something to celebrate today. Tell me about a time you found something small to celebrate!

 

Additional resources: (some contain affiliate links)

My friend Sharon has a blog, Around the Table, dedicated to Inspiring families to connect at mealtimes. Everyday can be a celebration. Check out this recent post on why you should have more picnics!

Her book is available here.

Kathy EricksonComment