Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Celebration Leads to Anticipation

"Look, there on the mountains, the feet of one who brings good news, who proclaims peace! Celebrate your festivals, Judah, and fulfill your vows. No more will the wicked invade you; they will be completely destroyed." Nahum 1:15 NIV

I remember graduating from high school. It was a huge celebration both for my family, but also together with my friends. We laughed and cheered and threw our hats in the air before we took off for Disneyland and Grad Night! While the celebration was a culmination of school and a celebration of the completion (woo hoo for no more finals), it also ushered in a wave of anticipation for the future. I was off to college...what would that be like? Where would I go? What would I major in? Could I handle the class load?

This scenario has repeated itself so many times in my life. Celebration that leads to anticipation. College graduation celebrations led to the anticipation of a full-time teaching job and, eventually, my first steps into full-time ministry. Wedding celebrations led to the anticipation of becoming a dad. Graduating with a Master's degree recently led to the anticipation of new levels of leadership and influence.

Celebration leads to anticipation!

How often have you considered this process? So often, I believe we look at celebration as more of a jaunt down memory lane than a launching pad into the great unknown. But consider the great power on December 31 of celebrating the New Year - we never yell "Happy Old Year!" The entire celebration is centered on the hopes and dreams of the pending calendar year and all that might be accomplished.

So, what can you celebrate today? Remember, it doesn't have to big as "large" as a graduation ceremony. Where are the victories in your life that cause a moment of pause to celebrate? Celebration happens in our marriages, in our children, in a healthy diagnosis, in the inclusion of our families into church. Celebration occurs when a single dad can pay the bills, when a son or daughter scores their first point, or when we see God at work in the midst of dark times.

While I am sure that there is plenty to worry and stress about (holidays somehow make the struggles even more pronounced), I know that there is just as much, if not more, to celebrate and cheer. May I encourage you to set aside just five minutes today to write down your causes for celebration. No activity is too large or too small to fit into the celebration circle. Then, take your list and share it with those in your life who matter - let the celebration spread from yourself and become contagious to all who are blessed enough to cross your path.

Then, having done all of this, allow your celebration to grow into anticipation. Anticipation for how God plans to build on the faithfulness He has already displayed. Anticipation for the positive reports from school, the blessings at work and the encouragement received at home. Anticipation is a wonderful part of life as it is grounded in hope. Hope keeps us going, leads us to more times of celebration which in turn brings about a greater sense of anticipation. Isn't God good the way that He designed this?!?

Here's hoping that you have much to celebrate which will allow you to anticipate even more which will result in greater celebrations down the road.

Lord, thank You for Your faithfulness in our lives. We are so blessed and have so much to celebrate. Let us not overlook the small victories in life, but rather celebrate each moment so that You might grow within us a deep sense of anticipation. Anticipation that is founded upon the truth that You are God, You are faithful, and You are walking with us through life. Bless us this day and beyond, amen!

~ Mike

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