A second place pumpkin from the 2013 Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Celebrate the small victories

When was the last time you had a bad day? And I don’t mean a bad day as in a horrible, no-good, really bad kind of a day. I mean a bad day as in just a not-good day. Where something went wrong. Where people let you down. Where bad drivers made you grumpy.

It doesn’t have to be a day of epic badness to put you in a bad mood. Sometimes just one thing can go wrong, and it may not even be a huge problem. Those days are more common, I think, than the others. Just a bad day. And I hope that you are in a place in your life where your good days outnumber your bad days. Even though it may not feel like it, they probably do.

So if we honestly have more good days than bad ones, why do the bad days feel so overwhelming? Could it be we just don’t know how to celebrate the good days when we have them?

Today’s verse is Zechariah 4:10.

A second place pumpkin from the 2013 Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

A second place pumpkin from the 2013 Sedgwick County Fair, Hutchinson, KS

Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin, to see the plumb line in Zerubbabel’s hand.

I thought this verse was interesting because this is God talking to the prophet Zechariah, telling him to be sure not to discount small things. And I think that’s really relevant to our lives right now.

You don’t need to wait for a huge accomplishment to celebrate something. I’m not sure where that concept came from. Every day, I know something happens in each of our lives that’s worth celebrating. No, it may not be earth shattering. It may not change the world. Maybe you didn’t win first place, but you still won something. It means something in your life. And it might even mean something in the lives of people around you. So you should celebrate.

Did you get through a month without a speeding ticket? Celebrate!

Did you make it a week without eating something you’re not supposed to? Celebrate! (with a stick of celery, of course)

Did you get through a day without strangling that one person at work? Celebrate!

Whatever small victory you’ve achieved in your life, take the time to mark it down. It doesn’t have to be a huge affair. It doesn’t even have to include others, although that always makes it more fun. Celebrate the quiet victories in your life, and then when the bad days roll around again, you’ll remember the good days better.

It’s not wrong or indulgent to celebrate, especially when you’re celebrating something that God has done in your life. Actually, that’s encouraged! The more we celebrate God’s work in our hearts, the better!

I mean, how many Christ-followers do you know celebrate the day they accepted Christ? What about the day they got baptized? What about the day that God answered that desperate prayer to find your keys?

Do we celebrate those things? Do we mark those things down? If we don’t, how do we expect to remember them? And if we can’t remember them, it’s no wonder it feels like our bad days are overwhelming.

So what has God done for you today? What small prayer has He answered? What quiet miracle has He done? Don’t let it slip by unnoticed. Don’t let it pass you without acknowledging it. Even if you just stop for a moment to take a photograph or write a paragraph or tell somebody about it.

Just celebrate.

And when you start celebrating the small things God does for you, you might be surprised at how often you end up celebrating.

Random marching band coming down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Private parties are pretty selfish

I think people forget that the Bible is full of feasts and celebrations. God wants people to celebrate and rejoice and spend time together remembering all that He has done for them, and I’m not exactly sure when that became uncool. I mean, does anybody really do that in the States? We have parties, yes. We have “fellowship time” I guess, but do we ever just have a party with the sole purpose of celebrating what God has done for us? Kind of sounds like fun, actually.

I don’t take enough time to celebrate like I should. I thank Him for what He’s done, yes. I do that frequently, but to actually stop and mark the day and slow down long enough to focus on being thankful is difficult for me. I’m not a scholar about this sort of thing, but if I remember correctly the Jewish calendar is packed full of feast days and celebrations. And not just one-day celebrations. Week-long celebrations. Sometimes longer, if memory serves. Now that’s a party.

Random marching band coming down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Random marching band coming down the Royal Mile, Edinburgh, Scotland

Today’s verses are Psalm 63:3-8.

Your unfailing love is better than life itself;
    how I praise you!
I will praise you as long as I live,
    lifting up my hands to you in prayer.
You satisfy me more than the richest feast.
    I will praise you with songs of joy.
I lie awake thinking of you,
    meditating on you through the night.
Because you are my helper,
    I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you;
    your strong right hand holds me securely.

When my brother and I were in Edinburgh at the beginning of our UK trip, we were walking down the Royal Mile looking for a place to eat. We had stopped to listen to a bagpiper play in the doorway of a government building, and then we heard the unmistakable sound of a marching band. I still don’t know what this marching band was doing, coming up the Royal Mile with their drums and instruments and banners. There were five or six groups of them, all in different uniforms, all different ages.

I didn’t think much of it until now, honestly, but I’m sure they were commemorating something. Maybe it was a holiday. Maybe it was an anniversary. Who knows? What matters is that when they appeared, people stopped to watch them, to listen. If you look closely at this photo, there’s even a guy videoing them. Shoot, I even took pictures. I have no idea what they were celebrating, but it was enough for me to want to remember it.

Here’s the point, Christians. Our God is awesome. He’s everything, or at least He should be. He loves us especially when we don’t deserve His love, He never gives up on us, and He never leaves us. He’s working everything in our lives out for good, and we can trust Him. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to our relationship with Him. I love what David said in the Psalm today because it really just expresses so many of the things I want to tell God. But I can tell Him those things in private. That’s perfectly fine. I can celebrate in private. That’s fine too. But private parties are pretty selfish, don’t you think?

I don’t know what these marching band folks were celebrating, but it was a big enough deal for them to get dressed up and march for ages in funny outfits. It was a big enough deal that it made me stop in my tracks and pay attention.

Celebrating what God has done in our lives is something that should be public, and it’s worth slowing down for. I’m working on learning how to do that because it’ll be good for me and because I’m convinced it’s the best way to introduce others to Christ. If the only Christ others know is the one we ram down their throats, why would they have any interest in getting to know Him? My Jesus is my best friend. I talk to Him all the time. I tell Him everything, and I know He hears me. And I love telling people what He’s done for me because I absolutely don’t deserve any of it but for some reason He decided to trust me.

So slow down. Look at your life. What has God for you today? Maybe it’s small. Maybe it’s not. In any case, He still did it, and that’s worth celebrating. So party it up. Rejoice. Celebrate! And let others see you do it. Be ready to tell them why you’re celebrating so maybe they can begin to wrap their heads around the fact that following Christ isn’t about rules or stuffy old church buildings–that it’s about living life with Jesus and the joy is so great it’s difficult to comprehend. Who knows? Maybe someone who doesn’t believe will stop and listen.