God Calls Us To Celebrate
What do you do when life pushes in from every side, when pressure and pain do their best to choke out perspective and for a moment you’re sure a little piece of sky just landed on your head?
As I was reading through this week’s Life Journal readings in Deuteronomy, I discovered a remarkable gift God has given His people to push back the crazy when the crazy starts pushing in on you.
Deuteronomy is such a powerful part of God’s Story and the closing book of the Pentateuch, the Books of the Law. The Israelites were about to enter The Promised Land and as they gathered upon the east banks of the Jordan River, Moses poured out his last words of identity into God’s people. I am praying today they will echo through the ages, reverberating inside your heart too.
“The Great Shema” (In Deut. 6) is a holy prayer and proclamation that breaths identity and purpose into a people who belong to God. Small Jewish boys and girls still memorize it today and devout elders pray it aloud, morning and evening.
“Hear O Israel, The Lord your God is One.
“Love the Lord your God will all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.” Deuteronomy 6:4-9
In a land flowing with milk and honey, layered with freedom and fruitfulness, this is what God’s people would need to remember: Wrap yourself inside God’s heart.
In slavery, in the desert and in battle, the Israelites had no choice but to cling to God for survival. Even then so many times they would get frustrated and cry out, “Forget this! This is too hard. I don’t like trusting God!” Oh, How many times have I thought that too?
So when it was time for a new day to dawn, the people’s faith needed to grow up. They would have many more choices in a land so fertile their lives could finally be fruitful. But it wouldn’t be perfect, and sometimes it would be painful. As they stood on the banks of the Jordan that day and looked out across their future, God imbedded a hope in their hearts as He gently whispered, “Remember my children, to Celebrate.”
Celebrate when the sun the comes up. Celebrate when the week’s work is done. Celebrate when the harvest comes in. Celebrate when the season’s change. Celebrate when you are together. Celebrate when you are alone. Celebrate something. Celebrate always. Celebrate anyway.
In the land of milk and honey sometimes God parts the waters, and slays the enemy at your feet and feeds you from the palm of His hand. But then sometimes He doesn’t. Sometimes He lets us test our wings, strengthen our faith muscles, and deepen our sense of trust beyond what we can see (or feel). Because there is something bigger at stake than comfort. Sometimes life is filled with work and worry and the sky feels like it’s falling down on top of our heads. It’s like that because we are doing something of value. But it is in exactly those times that the commands of the law speak the loudest.
They call out to our hearts:
Remember to Celebrate.
Because in celebrating we remember. We remember our first love. We remember who to turn to. We remember who we are.
Do you know what the majority of the law addresses? Celebration. The consecrated feasts and festivals, the holy sabbath, the sacred rhythms and seasons of the daily life and calendar; the commands of God to cease and celebrate, to worship.
And that is why we know:
God Calls Us To Celebrate.
Celebration rejects the curse. Rejoicing refutes death. Resting conquers chaos. When we celebrate we push back the commotion of life to allow restoration for our souls.
Celebration commands time to stand still.
The strain and the struggle will always be there, but for a moment we let them simply disappear. And our hearts are refreshed as we pause to remember and celebrate.
We are part of a heavenly army fighting in a fallen world. If life wasn’t so hard, we’d be doing it wrong. But that is why God commands us to establish boundary lines to push back the pressure and carve out rhythms that will restore us. It’s written into His law.
Celebration changes our perspective. It reminds us what we’re fighting and what we’re fighting for. It reconnects us to God and to each other. It rebuilds, restores, refreshes, and refuels.
The Sabbath is a weekly command to rest. The work will wait. A day of rest each week restores connection with God and community. The many seasonal feasts and festivals are calls to defy the urgency of daily demands and raging responsibilities to come away with Him, to be restored. They carve out space in our lives to look up, look around, smile, laugh, sing, dance, play, sleep, converse, commune, snuggle, worship. Life is more than work.
We must stop so we can start again.
Just as the sun sets each evening I walk around my home turning on table lamps. The soft light casts a warm glow into each room and welcomes (for me) the end of the day.
God built natural rhythms of celebration into our days, our seasons, our years. What simple rhythms of celebration do you keep?
A cup of tea before bed?
Visits to the farmer’s market on Friday evenings?
Picnics in the park when the weather warms?
Monthly family nights?
Weekly waffles after church on Sundays?
Life will press in on us from all sides. Moses stood there on the banks of the Jordan River that day and warned them it would. But He also promised, “keep your hearts tucked closely into God’s; keep pace with Him, keep pause with Him and you will live in peace.”
In God’s kindness He has reserved pockets of power tucked deep into the corners of life, waiting for us to tap into them. These are the sacred moments of:
May your life be in step with God’s rhythms, as you find peace and pause in the midst of every season. In Jesus’ name, Amen.