“Man, I’m tired of this. Trying to do the right thing. Lead my family. Raise my children. I can’t do it anymore—can I just check out and watch some TV?”
I hit a dead end. Facing the frustration of dealing with my children through their adolescence, the constant conflict of differing priorities with their mother (my ex-wife), and the unknown future of work. My shoulders were weighed down under the burden of expectations. “It’s all up to you. Don’t screw it up.” I didn’t know what to do. I was down to my last resort. I called my parents.
“How did you do it? When I was such a pain, how did you not give up?”
It was my mom who responded. “I had another mom who also home-schooled her boys. We would call each other every night and say, ‘Remind me why we’re doing this.’”
So far, we have discussed the disciplines of submission and solitude. By now, some of you may be thinking the same thing. The struggle is too great. You want to give up.
How do you keep going when everything in you wants to check out?
Remember why you’re doing it.
Celebration and worship are how we remember in the midst of our struggles. Worship is “our response to the overtones of love from the heart of the Father.” God intervenes in our lives, and our response is praise. And what greater way have our lives been interrupted by the divine than by the power and work of Jesus?
“To worship is to know, feel, and experience the resurrected Christ in the midst of the gathered community.”
How do we practice this discipline? It takes some conscious effort. Foster offers some suggestions.
Practice the presence of God. Live in the perpetual presence of God by listening to the Teacher as you go about your day.
Prepare for worship. If you’re going to church Sunday morning, go to bed early Saturday night. Arrive early and let go of any distractions.
Learn to offer a sacrifice of worship. We are to love God with all of our body, which may mean taking a posture of worship (bowed head, kneeling, raised hands, laying prostrate). It’s not about how you feel, but how God deserves to be praised.
Begin with holy expectancy. If you live every day in the active presence of God, you expect to hear Him in times of worship. Approach the throne in eager anticipation.
End with holy obedience. To worship is to change. Worship calls us to join in the war against the powers of Satan. We go out from the presence of God in obedience to this call.
Worship brings obedience, which brings joy, which brings celebration. It’s a cycle of praise that prevents us from becoming dull and tired, hollow husks simply going through the motions. Joy makes us strong when we feel weary, too tired to take another step.
How can we inject the joy of the Lord into our lives through the discipline of celebration?
Singing, dancing, shouting are a good start. I would suggest trying these in the privacy of your own home if you’re a little shy.
Laughter. Make sure to laugh every day (and even better, make someone else laugh with you).
Explore the gifts of creativity, both your own (coloring, playing imaginative games with your kids, writing) and others (appreciate paintings and sculptures, music). Combine both, and put on an art show at home.
Redeem cultural events. My family celebrates the Olympics by having a meal from the host country’s cuisine during the Opening Ceremonies. Next week we will explore the meaning and depth of Advent to prepare for Christmas.
Celebration and worship remind us why we’re doing it. When the struggle becomes great, and the temptation rises to check out, shift your focus to find the joy that is your strength.
For further study:
As always, most of the content for this week's session came from Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster. Also, last week's Become Good Soil podcast offered a conversation with Dallas Willard where he discusses the importance of solitude and silence (in case you didn't get enough). The link to their podcast is here.
Bible verses to explore:
Moses praise after God delivered Israel through the Red Sea (Exodus 15). Mary's praise in expectation of the Messiah (Luke 1:46-55). Romans 8:4, 1 Peter 2:5-9, Colossians 3:16, Nehemiah 8:10, Philippians 4:4-8
Walking the Path
Where do you find your heart most in a position of worship? How do you "respond to the overtones of love from the heart of the Father?"
What is the attitude of your heart on Sunday morning before church?
How can you inject joy and celebration in your life this week?
Read the Bible verses listed above. What stands out from those Scriptures?