An ice cream sundae? Dancing in your living room? How do you celebrate? And why?
And when was the last time you did?
Recently He smiled the question, “What shall we do to celebrate?” It wasn’t because of a big external accomplishment. No “A” in a course. No new job or promotion. We were celebrating a breakthrough in my understanding. A receiving of love. And really, isn’t that always the best reason to celebrate?
God sets the precedent. He celebrates. Sometimes with quiet enjoyment and rest (Gen 2:2-3). Sometimes with vigorous, enthusiastic dancing and singing (Zeph 3:17). Once by replenishing the wine supply when the wedding guests had already had too much to drink (John 2:1-11). But when the reason for celebration is your return home, your creeping a little deeper into his love (for the first time or the hundredth), then he throws an all out party (Luke 15). And he invites all his friends to celebrate with him. “Rejoice with me! Rejoice with me!” It’s a strong note in this Heartbeat of love.
God made us to party
God created the world overflowing with the most extravagant of decorations: many colored streamers strung across the sky morning and evening, whole hedges of wild roses, buttercups scattered like confetti in the grass. Cherry blossoms hung loosely to fall with the slightest breeze, crowning our hair and making a carpet beneath our feet like the petals scattered before the bride at her wedding. Creation is an extravagant display of a glorious love.
And He made us to enjoy it. We see not only light and darkness but violet and fuscia and periwinkle. We savor the scent of damp earth and lilacs and a pine forest on a summer evening. Touch, taste, hearing, each opens us further to the rich love poured out. (And while we’re on that track, don’t you think the design of our bodies so that laughter decreases stress hormones, strengthens our immune system, and makes us live longer was intentional?) We were made to join in his celebration.
God commands parties
Every time I read it again, this command surprises me. I get so used to thinking of the tithe as something we give away. To God. For His use. And that’s part of it. But in Deuteronomy 12 and 14 the command is different. Summarized, it’s, “Set aside a tenth of your income each year, and use it to party in my presence” (Deut. 14:22-27, cf. 12:6-7).
And in the midst of that command is this one: “See to it that you do all I command you. Do not add to it or take away from it” (Deut 12:32). Don’t omit the gifts for those serving in the temple. Don’t forget about the part that’s to be offered to Me, the blood poured out on the ground and the fatty pieces burned up. And don’t forget to party in my presence. Why? Because God has blessed us (12:7). And so we will learn to revere God (14:23). Celebrating in his presence is one of the best ways to remember who He is: an extravagant, gracious God. And who we are: loved beyond belief. Joining in the party is one of the best ways to receive that love and love him back. (I picture myself in an extravagant party hall and wonder: how often do I show up to this lavish party at which I am one of the honored guests and sit in a corner with my laptop, head down, shushing the other guests, turning away from the host who is leaning in, asking for a dance, and mumbling, “I just have to finish this?”)
Ann Voskamp’s words hit home: “Calendars can con: there are really only as many days left as you actually live. In the end, everyone ends up at the length of their lives – but only a few live the whole width of a life.”
There's a surprising amount of choice in how we live this celebration, this width of a life (Deut 14:26). The key thing is to celebrate with God, in His presence. And to recognize why. Sandwiched between the Deuteronomy commands to party is the reminder, “You are a people holy to the LORD your God. . . . The LORD has chosen you to be his treasured possession.” (Deut 14:2) It guides how we party. It also gives us reason to party. We are - YOU are - His treasured possession!
So how will you answer His question, “What shall we do to celebrate today?” His love is reason enough to celebrate all day every day for the rest of our lives!
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P.S. Want to share how you’ll celebrate today in the comments?