Spiritual Discipline // CELEBRATION
By James Gerber
Today we will examine the importance of celebration in the life of the believer.
“The robot game” is a favorite of ours in the Gerber house. Let me explain. The robot game is a game that we typically play on the trampoline. It usually involves my three youngest daughters bouncing around in circles as screams of joy and excitement fill the air. All the while, you guessed it, I pretend to be a robot whose goal is to catch and tickle all of the children.
What I find to be interesting is that as excited as my kids are while we play, they are actually most excited before the game even starts. Normally they ask if we can play robot, remind me that I promised them yesterday, and then they erupt with giddy shouts of joy. They’ll scream in excitement to each other and to my wife Ashley, “Dad’s said yes to playing robot!!”
My kids, like most, have a carefree joy about them. They eagerly anticipate and believe that their parents will follow through on their promises, and when we do, they dance with joy and celebration!
The scriptures suggest that this is what it ought to look like for a follower of Jesus. An intimate abiding relationship with our father in heaven, in which we place our full trust in his promises of provision. As we see him following through time and time again, we can’t help but rejoice and celebrate his goodness. Over time, like “little children” (See Matt. 18), we find ourselves living a more carefree, light and joy filled life because we trust that our father will do what he says he would do.
Richard J. Foster affirms this in his classic on spiritual disciplines, “Celebration of Discipline.”
“Freedom from anxiety and care forms the basis for celebration. Because we know he cares for us, we can cast all our care upon him. God has turned our mourning into dancing.”
All too often we don’t live in this place. Richard J. Foster paints a picture for us of what has become commonplace for many of us; a life void of celebration:
“The carefree spirit of joyous festivity is absent in contemporary society. Apathy, even melancholy, dominates the times. Harvey Cox says that modern man has been pressed “so hard toward useful work and rational calculation he has all but forgotten the joy of ecstatic celebration….”
I have a theory. We worry too much. Period. We have too much anxiety about our lives. We do things God hasn’t asked us to do, and we’re too busy trying to provide for ourselves. So, we end up crowding out all of the extra space in our lives meant for things like parties, games, vacations, sabbath, family time, and even the time to just sit with God and say “thank you.” We miss that God has been providing all along. Think back to the last time you were really worried about something? Did you lose sleep? Did it occupy space in your mind when you went about your day? Did it steal some of the joy from your life? The bottom line is that it’s very difficult to live a life of joyful celebration when we’re so busy worrying about our lives.
How do we get out of this cycle? Is there a way that we can disrupt this pattern?
The apostle Paul connects the dots for us. Contemplate this scripture & respond:
4Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.Philippians 4:4-7
- Take 3-5 minutes to look back over the last week, month & even year. Reflect on and write down the ways that the Lord provided for you.
- Write a list of the good things in your life that you are thankful for. (People, places, things).
- Take a few minutes to thank God for each of the instances of His goodness & provision!
- Now that you’ve thanked God, tell God the things that you’re worried about and ask God to be your provider in your areas of need.