When was the last time you celebrated what God was doing in and around you?
I mean really, really celebrated. Paused and prayed. Sang a song. Told a friend. Wrote it down. Whatever stopping to celebrate looks like for you – when was it? Have you ever stopped to celebrate?
Personally, celebration with God is too rare in my life. I’ll do it when I’m asked to in different ministry situations, but honestly, it’s something I haven’t spent enough time practicing. When it comes down to it, there are probably two main reasons why that’s true. First and foremost: I struggle with pride. I struggle with pride that keeps me so focused on myself and my to-do list, that I forget to reflect on what God’s doing and what He’s up to amidst my to-do list. Secondly, I live a more busy and rushed life then I’d like to admit. Being busy and on to the next thing again and again routinely keeps me from reflecting on what the Lord has done. And when I forget what He’s done, it’s hard to trust Him with what’s ahead.
Celebration matters because remembering all that God has done for us is foundational for living a life of faith in Christ. I know what you’re thinking, “Foundational? Isn’t that a little dramatic?” Yes, foundational.
In the Old Testament, God commanded Israel to remember what He had done. Notice a few of Moses’ pleas to Israel in the Old Testament:
Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. (Deut. 5:15)
Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. (Deut. 8:2)
Remember this and never forget how you aroused the anger of the Lord your God in the wilderness. From the day you left Egypt until you arrived here, you have been rebellious against the Lord. (Deut. 9:7)
But Psalm 106:7-8 tells us,
“When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea. Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.”
“They believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” (v. 12-13)
Like Israel, we are quick to give no thought to God’s miracles. Like Israel, we often don’t remember God’s many kindnesses and rebel. Like Israel, we can soon forget and grow impatient in our waiting – especially through trials or suffering.
But God in His grace has given us a new way of remembrance in the New Testament:
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26)
That’s pretty incredible news, isn’t it? We no longer have to try and remember on our own effort – we have the Helper! God -who’s living within us – helps us to remember God.
I think that’s a pretty genius solution because I know how desperately I need a Helper to remember what Jesus did for me and what He continues to do in and around me. I especially need a Helper when I feel weak, tempted, broken, and discouraged. That’s what is so beautiful to me about celebration – it’s simply surrendering to the Holy Spirit, and pausing to reflect on what the Lord has done or is doing. It means letting Him remind me through family, through friends, through song, through reading the Bible, through answered prayers, through blogs, through creation itself. If we ever had a reason to celebrate, has anyone or anything ever been more worthy than Jesus and the gospel?
When I started setting the intention to practice celebration more this year, I wasn’t instantly changed or wow-ed. Sometimes it’s really hard – especially on days when I’m in a pity party, have a busy day, or I’m just straight up not trusting God with something. So far, my experience has been like most things in the Christian life – a slow, steady, week by week transformation. Over time being transformed in this area of my life has looked like more contentment and less comparison. It’s looked like noticing how often I dwell on the future with anxiety because I forget how faithful the Lord has been to me and those around me. Not only has it increased my faith and trust in God, but it’s helped me to be more gracious and patient with others when they forget to remember, too.
Say it with me:
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” (Psalm 77:11)
Ways I’ve practiced the art of celebration that I’ve found to be helpful:
- Meditate. Pause wherever you are right now and meditate in silence on what God has done in you and those around you lately.
- Sing. Belt out a worship song on your next commute – and remember with joy what God has done in and around you.
- Reach out. Text a friend this week – tell them how you’ve seen God move in and through them lately.
- Reflect. Go back in your journal and write down how you’ve seen God answer recent prayers this weekend – and – next time you go to a small group or church ask yourself, “What have I seen God do here lately?”, instead of nitpicking what you have not seen.
- Read. Look at these Psalms every night before you go to sleep this week (Psalm 78, 89, 103 – 107).
- Pause. Set a reminder on your phone at a time you’re normally tempted to rush past what God is doing (for me, lunch is a good time to pause and reflect on what God is doing that day and thank Him for it) and try it for the next month.
And remember, our own effort will not ultimately transform our forgetfulness – it’s the Helper who will remind us of what Jesus has done.