Friday, July 7, 2017

When God Mandates Rest and We Refuse to Comply


I'm not sure when I first stumbled upon the idea of zany holidays, but I embraced them with great enthusiasm. When Ryan was growing up, we celebrated everything from the color blue to Pi to National Hot Dog Day, and many things in between.

This morning, I looked at the Holiday Insights website for new ideas. Today is both Chocolate Day and National Strawberry Sundae Day, both holidays worth celebrating. I just missed National Fried Chicken Day and International Kissing Day (both yesterday). Tomorrow is National Blueberry Day. (Hence the photo of the blueberry pound cake above) 

I love the idea of celebrating, but I'm not sure I'll take the time to commemorate these particular days.

Celebration, however, is a Biblical principle, and one I've not been as good about following in recent years. Scripture describes eight festivals a year for the nation of Israel to follow. Most of them are several days (or a week) in length. No work. Feasting. Celebrating. Joy. Community. Fun. All mandated by God. 

Selah.

Pause to consider that bit of truth for a moment. 

In the law, God specifically instructed His people to take more than a month's worth of festival days filled with feasting, celebration, and community. Every one of those days is a day of rest, in addition to the weekly Sabbath day. 

As I counted feast days, I attempted to do a quick "rest day" count... 52 Sabbaths a year, three of those (at least) falling on festival days. Thirty three festival days. That's more than 80 days of rest, no matter how you figure it. 22% of the year. One in five days. At least..

That's a lot of fun, and a lot of rest.

I don't always see God as a party-God, but maybe I should.

In recent years, I've celebrated less and worked more. After two hard days of editing, I'm in the home stretch. Yesterday, I worked from 5 am until 10:30pm with very few breaks in between. I'm 75% through the edits (mostly changing a few sections written in first person back to third person). When I finally finish the edits and proposal and hit send, I'll want to celebrate. And I should. 

Here's a true confession: I probably won't. 

Today, I'm reconsidering the importance of both rest and celebration. If God says to do it, why don't we? 

I'm not sure why, and I'm not sure our reasons matter. What's important is not defending our disobedience, but learning to obey. 

Every festival God ordained had a point. It wasn't merely rest; the people of Israel were to celebrate the provision of God. At the end of harvest, they celebrated the increase God had given. At Passover, they celebrated the provision God had made for sin. At Purim, they celebrated His miraculous deliverance from massacre. 

Every holiday was, in some way, a celebration of the goodness and generosity of God. Even the Sabbath was a celebration of the truth that God could do in six days what was utterly impossible for mere man. 

If 22% of the year is supposed to be for rest and celebrating God, when will we start? 

Why not begin today?

Let's be intentional about spending time celebrating the goodness of God today, as if we had a mini-holiday to commemorate. Because we do. 22% of a 24 hour day is 5.3 hours...Friends, we have plenty of time to celebrate God today, so let's get started.

For what goodness and generosity of God are you thanking Him today? What are you celebrating?

"Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy..." Exodus 20:8 nasb
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