Choosing Celebration

Is your life marked by celebration? You know — parties, dancing, laughter, cake, confetti… the whole works. Or maybe for you —  a quiet dinner, a day trip to the mountains, or maybe…  just maybe, allowing yourself time to sleep in or to read a good book? Celebration. Are you taking the time to truly celebrate?

Recently at church, we have been studying the Old Testament book of Ezra with a thematic focus on God’s faithfulness. The sharp contrast between God’s faithfulness and the unfaithfulness of his people becomes clear when looking at the Israelites.  Despite all of their faithlessness, He remained  faithful — loving them and continuing to forgive them.  He provided multiple chances for the people  to atone for their sins, yet the people remained unloyal.  They took advantage of His perfect love.

Our pastor, Matt Morgan, taught on a passage out of Ezra 6.  All throughout the message, he reiterated the fact that — despite the Israelites’ sins, God  is faithful to fulfilling His promises to them and unfailing in showing His love to them.  The same is true for us.  While the Israelites had to offer sacrifice after sacrifice each time they did not follow His law — God was faithful to us by sending Jesus to be our one-time, ultimate sacrifice . Through Jesus, we have been purified and no longer have to strive and work to earn and maintain that purity, or ultimately, access to God.  Matt’s words pierced my heart when he said, “No one has a greater reason to celebrate than the children of God.  Is He making your heart glad? Is your life marked by joy and celebration?”

To me, celebration means gathering with your favorite people to laugh, dance, share, or sit restfully.  I think back on times of celebration and they all contain a common thread — overspilling joy.  In times of celebration, my heart is so stirred with gladness that the topic of what I am joyful about just bubbles over into anything I am doing.

Cracker Barrel Picture

So, back to the question at hand — Was my life marked by joy and celebration in Christ? — Unfortunately, the answer was… no. He was not making my heart glad. He was not spilling over into my conversations. He was not spilling over into my down-time. He was not spilling over into my actions. But you know what was making my heart glad? The things that I sought for comfort on hard days? The things that I looked eagerly toward, and the things I felt angry and annoyed if others stood in the way? The things I chose to celebrate?

  • Netflix… hours and hours of binge watching my favorite shows on Netflix
  • Dr. Pepper
  • Being alone in my apartment with no one trying to spend time with me
  • Cancelled arrangements
  • Food… (more on this topic later)
  • Shopping sprees at Target

And guess what? All of these things making my heart “glad” — were spilling into my life.  My thoughts remained on when I would next be able to watch Netflix,  or how I wished my life looked like what I saw on screen.  I viewed time spent with sweet friends as overwhelming and even burdensome at times.  I filled my body full of health-threatening foods and didn’t care about the effects it was having on my body.  I only wanted to keep buying more things to catch up to the characters on my shows, or to hide my ever growing waistline.  I was a prisoner. I was trapped in depression because I was seeking joy in things that are not life giving.  

Interestingly enough—

“The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have came that you may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10)

I was in no way experiencing an abundant life.  While in every single area I was demanding more, more, more and getting more, more, more right back… I felt like I was empty. Lacking. Unfulfilled.

He desires to give us life in abundance. Our lives should be marked with celebration.  Joy should be oozing into each part of our  lives because our God is unfailingly faithful in His promises and His love towards us! This is cause for celebration.

This is yet another reason for why I have began this journey of seeking out the smiles in the cup. What better way to celebrate His goodness than to spend my days seeking out the little glimpses of Him, even in the mundane?  What better way to celebrate than to share what He is teaching me? What better way to celebrate than to sit restfully under His love?  It is time for celebration. Will you join me?

 

 

*Disclaimer — These are my personal thoughts based on the message I heard. I do not intend for my thoughts on this teaching to be considered the thoughts of Escalate church as whole.  If you would like to know more about what Escalate Church believes, please visit http://www.escalatechurch.com/who-we–are/beliefs or  talk with Matt Morgan, the lead pastor. 🙂
Also — the items that I mentioned that I was finding joy in are not horrible things, it was just a matter of me abusing their original intent and their ability to serve as gifts.

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