This may not come as a surprise to those who know me well. But when I was a kid, I used to time it perfectly so that I saved my Halloween candy until Christmas. My Christmas candy until Valentines. And my Valentines candy until Easter. I guess I just scavenged through the mid-part of the year to get my sugar high. My brother, on the other hand, would fully enjoy his candy (then break into my candy stash and steal mine!). I have to wonder…would I have enjoyed the candy more if I had just eaten it when I really wanted it, instead of denying myself the pleasure just to make it last longer?
Talking with our friends, we recently realized an adult scenario of that situation. If we get a nice bottle of wine, we tend to store it away while we enjoy the much less expensive bottle…saving that nicer bottle for a ‘special occasion’. What we end up with is a collection of nicer wine we are afraid to drink because we are just saving it for the right occasion. But maybe the everyday is the right occasion!?
This past weekend, we savored time with sweet family friends enjoying a summer’s night eating and spending time together on the back patio. The kids played with sparklers. We drank nice champagne. We noted that there was no particular special occasion (other than being together, which made it special). And we wondered if a nice bottle of champagne should be saved for that impending ‘special occasion’ or celebration. I think the conclusion I came to is that the everyday is the special occasion. And my five year old made me realize what a shame it would be to save the sparklers for only a couple of patriotic holidays per year. Hanging out on the back patio on warm summer nights with dear friends are the memories we will most likely hold closest as life moves on. More so than New Years Eve or rare celebrations, those nights are the champagne worthy nights.
I tend to be quite the planner, but maybe sometimes, just eating the candy when I want it, lighting the sparklers, and enjoying that rare fancy glass of champagne is a perfect celebration…for everyday life. There is no need to hoard joy. Joy is all around us.
A verse that has particularly stood out to me in the past year is Romans 15:13 – “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” My God of Hope is One who yearns for me to trust in Him day in and day out…to allow Him to infuse our everyday with real peace and great joy. And sometimes, that’s easier said than done. We allow the details and stresses of this world to choke our joy.
Oswald Chambers noted that,
“Living a full and overflowing life does not rest in bodily health, in circumstances, nor even in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the same fellowship and oneness with Him that Jesus Himself enjoyed. But the first thing that will hinder this joy is the subtle irritability caused by giving too much thought to our circumstances. Jesus said, “. . . the cares of this world, . . . choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful” (Mark 4:19).
I’m not suggesting that we be careless and shirk our responsibilities. Or that we mismanage that which we have been given. But joy is a gift – one to be enjoyed one day at a time…not to be hoarded for special occasions. We bring God joy, and He wants us to know the same complete joy. I think that if Jesus was with us on our back patio, He would want to light some sparklers and maybe even have a glass of champagne too.