Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Celebrations!

For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:36, NKJV)

There are times in our lives when, despite life's challenges, our hearts can feel so full they might explode.  May has produced one such month for me.  Besides delighting in my daughter's ninth birthday, there is Mother's Day, and later my own birthday followed by Memorial Day.  It seems we spend this stretch moving from one celebration to another.

It occurred to me the other day how much God created times like this for our souls.  Celebrations produce many valuable things besides the obvious surface enjoyment.

Celebration creates a time to pause.  We stop the treadmill of our ordinary days to denote more remarkable ones.  For just a little while the daily demands and challenges have to wait because we have something much more exciting to do.  There's time to eat cake...  and to receive flowers  ...and to just relax in laughter together.  Where would we find ourselves without such breaks!  It refreshes the soul and brightens our spirits.

Celebration brings a time to reflect.  When my daughter's birthday arrived, I couldn't help but look back on the past 9 years.  My pregnancy with her was a very difficult one, resulting in bed rest for the last 4 months.  She was a little imp who always presented challenges for me.  But I look at how God brought us through so many difficult days, comforting us with a diagnosis and plans for help.  I marvel in amazement when I see how far the school staff has brought her.  I'm thrilled that I can even have some enjoyable time with just the two of us alone as she begins interacting appropriately.  And at Mother's Day I pondered the experience of being triply blessed.  How could my heart be anything but filled to overflowing with gratitude?

Celebration does induce gratitude.  These special times do cause rejoicing which we would not experience but by the hand of a generous and loving Lord.  Whether it be in remembering those who served in the military, a birthday, a founding of a nation, a time together as a church family or any other occasion, the utter fullness of so many good things that God has for us is front and center.  The blessings of having reached a goal or landmark, of good food, of family and friends are all there to relish.  Why should we get to enjoy such things when there are so many suffering in persecution or oppression around the world?  Yet, here are these times to treasure up in our hearts.  How can we not give God all the thanks and see how glorified He is by such events?

Celebration is one way we are used to glorify God.  As I've said in the past, "Whether you are aware of it or not, people are watching you."  When others see you filled with joy and having fun in spite of the difficulties in your life, they are naturally attracted to you.  They want to know what's different about you.  They want to know how you do it.  Celebration is evidence of God's fingerprints all over your life!  It gives you the opportunity to share an amazing Father with people around you.  At our special occasions, others who do not have a personal relationship with their Creator get a chance to enter in to the prayers we pray aloud.  At Christmas, we send a letter with our cards detailing what God has done in our lives over the past year.  So many have seen through these things our son defying the odds with his health, our daughter defying the odds with her accomplishments, and the rest of us defying the odds with our cohesiveness (imperfect as it may be) as a family.  We carry the Gospel in very practical ways to the average person.  How truly amazing to be used by the Lord of the Universe in such ways!

No matter how heavy life is today, make sure you take time for those celebrations your Heavenly Father has placed in your life.  Enjoy them to their fullest.  And grant them the opportunity to accomplish all God meant them to in your life and the lives of all around you.  They go far beyond a mere party!

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