Life is a gift. We’ve all heard that before. It is a gift to be opened, to be savored, to be rejoiced over, to be celebrated. We remember this when there are tragedies, accidents, and heartbreaks. We remember this when the life of another is unexpectedly stripped away. We remember this when our own life is put in danger. We remember this when there are schools and movie theaters and cities that are under attack. We recognize the fragility of our world and our life. We are reminded of the gift it is to be alive.
And then the proverbial Monday morning rolls around and we are found trudging through life like it is an unwanted burden, an arduous assignment, a somber duty. We want to live life well. We want to smile and breathe deeply and be thankful for the life we’ve been given, but things are hard. The mornings are sleepy, the evenings are late, the tasks are too many, the people uncooperative. We forget to inhale the fresh mountain air. We forget to hug the people we love. We forget to laugh at the jokes we hear. We forget to smile at the strangers we meet. We become consumed by the heaviness that we feel.
Birthdays, weddings, holidays, and vacations make their appearances. We stop trudging briefly enough to hang streamers and blow up balloons. We send up a prayer of thanks. Then we shoulder our pack and move on. On to sloughing through laborious work ahead. On to walking through our days with a dour expression on our faces. On to being serious about taking life seriously.
Sure, life is hard. It is painfully hard. Our days are so far from perfect, our relationships are broken, our work is exhausting. There is no easy path to hop on to, no quick exit when things get rough. We mess up. We face defeat. We are forced to endure loss. Life IS hard. But at the same time it is beautiful, and wonderful, and so worth celebrating.
Christ came to give us life. This is the heart of our message as Christians. He endured the agony of the cross because of the joy He knew it would give him to see us living rich and satisfying lives. He died so that we might live – and not the kind of life that we slough through, but an abundant life. A life of celebration.
It is the occupational hazard of devout folk to become stuffy bores. This should not be. Of all people, we should be the most free, alive, interesting. Celebration adds a note of gaiety, festivity, hilarity to our lives…So poke fun at yourself. Enjoy wholesome jokes and cleaver puns. Relish good comedy. Learn to laugh; it is a discipline to be mastered. Let go of the everlasting burden of always needing to sound profound. -Richard Foster
I think Jesus caught a vision as He hung on the cross. A vision of His people celebrating life. A people who would pull out balloons on the most ordinary of days and rejoice in the beauty that they saw. A people who would laugh – a lot and out loud. A people who let go of their pride and their need to be important, to release themselves from the chains of complaint and discontentment, to wake up – no matter how early – and give thanks for yet another day of life. Jesus knew we would still feel tired and still feel sad. They would get grumpy, irritated, and frustrated. Jesus knew we would still get hurt. But He didn’t intend us to flee these feelings. The life Jesus promised us was a life in which the hardship would be encompassed by the good. It would all be apart of the abundant life He was making for us.
We’re all invited to this party called life. We don’t need to wait until life puts itself back together and cleans itself up a little. This messy life is exactly the one we are to celebrate. The perfect Pinterest worthy decorations are unnecessary. The proper attire is irrelevant. All that is needed is a spirit willing to be a little silly, to laugh a lot, to live big, and to celebrate like crazy.
I think this is the kind of joy that was set before Jesus as He hung on the cross. The joy of His people celebrating the gift of life He was giving them.