The Art of Celebration

By Joèl Povolni

The phone call came out of nowhere. “Momma, I just had a wreck.” My friend’s heart dropped, but God’s grace upheld her. Her son was fine. He was walking away without even a scratch from being involved in a car accident with a semi-truck that could have been fatal. Moments like this can leave us so full of thanksgiving and yet shaken to the core as we process the details and let them resonate in our spirit. 

My friend shared the story with me as we texted back and forth about difficult mom-hood moments and God’s faithfulness through it all. She was so thankful for how God protected her son but almost felt guilty at the same time because there was a similar circumstance in the news that same day, where it didn’t turn out so well for one driver. It’s sometimes after the fact that we can feel the anxiety of what could have been. 

As we chatted, I strongly felt that my friend needed to stop and celebrate God’s hand of protection over her son. Having compassion and empathy for others is beautiful and suitable, but it shouldn’t steal the praise off our lips for God’s good deeds. The enemy wants nothing more than to jump in and take advantage of our emotions so he can steal our joy, causing us to walk in guilt, anxiety, and fear instead of strength, anointing, and expectant hope. 

We must stand our ground and fight for what belongs to us as sons and daughters of God. It’s part of who we are to celebrate what our Heavenly Father has done for us! 

After thirteen long months of our house being on the market, during the Great Crash of 2008, it finally sold. It was a big move from St. Louis, Missouri, to Loveland, Colorado, for our little family and my parents. My husband, Paul, had already started working in Colorado months prior and was looking at homes for us to live in. But unfortunately, it seemed there was nothing big enough for two households, and the land was expensive. 

A friend of my parents suggested Paul talk to the people who had just listed the big two-story house for rent at the end of the street they lived on. It made little sense. If everything he was looking at was expensive and not big enough, how could this work out in our favor? 

Suppose God asks my family to cross the Jordan River. Will He cause the water to pile up within a boundary he sets and leave the dry ground for us to cross over as he did for the Israelites in Joshua 4? It may appear the flood waters are rising with my natural eyes, and often things will look bleakest just before an answer comes. At that moment, it’s so easy to feel as though God is not with you. 

On a handshake, without checking our credit or verifying much of anything, the lady told my husband she liked him. The house he was standing in was our home to rent if we wanted it. This was a Red Sea parting kind of miracle. Who does that? This wasn’t the 1950s, but what we experienced sounded like the stories my grandfather used to tell of God’s faithfulness from the “black and white” days. Yet, we were living this story out in full color. With less than two weeks until our move, God had provided.

Because of God’s faithfulness, you are standing where you are and witnessing what you see. Those “Red Sea parting” & “cross over the Jordan River on dry land” miracle moments are worth shouts of praise and thanksgiving for the God who delivers, conquers, and saves. God is worthy of our praise, and celebrating His greatness lifts our spirits and produces more confident hope in the God who turns all things around for the good of those who love him! 

We may think we’ll never forget these defining moments of our lives, but believe it or not, time passes, and the grandeur of the experience can diminish and dull like silver tarnishes and shiny finishes dissipate. That’s why throughout history, God asked the Israelites to set up physical memorials so they could remember God’s faithfulness. The upcoming generations could ask about them, hear the stories, and participate in feasts and celebrations commemorating the goodness of God. 

“When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you…'” 

“When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them…” Joshua 4:6 

“So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.” Joshua 4:1-3, 6 & 7 What you celebrate, you become! It changes your spiritual DNA. 

Making memorials takes intentionality and time, and it’s worth every bit of the effort it takes. You can’t just gloss over a mighty move of God in your life, hurry on to the next activity, and then wonder why you already feel tired, empty, and anxious. We were created for worship. We must take time to slow down and rest, reflect, remember, repeat, and celebrate God’s faithfulness! May this become the rhythm of our lives. 

Rest. Be still for a moment. 

Reflect. Take notice, think back, and process what you have experienced. Remember. Recall what God has done and collect those stones of remembrance. Repeat. Tell the stories of God’s faithfulness to yourself and others often. Celebrate. Celebrate how God has worked on your behalf, giving him praise for who He is. 

This is easier said than done. Only one out of the ten lepers that Jesus healed returned to express his heart of thanksgiving by “praising God in a loud voice.” Luke 17:15. Jesus told him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:19 The thankful one learned that his faith had played a role in his healing. God uses our responsiveness to Him to

give us a greater understanding of who He is and how He desires to partner with his children. 

As my friend and I wound up our conversation for the evening, it took me a moment to respond to the last question she texted. What did I have to celebrate today? I pulled the events of the past week out of the cobwebs of my mind. I discovered amidst the chaos an answered prayer, a new opportunity, and the beauty surrounding me. I had a lot to celebrate despite the tough week it had been. I needed this conversation as much, or more, than my sweet friend. It’s so beautiful to see that as we practice the art of celebration, our grateful hearts will draw others in to taste and see that the Lord is good. 

So, I’ll leave you with my friend’s challenge: “Tell me three things you have to celebrate today – go!” 

P.S. Just in case you are wondering what God’s will is for you, here you go: “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 

With much love and grace, 

November 3, 2022