There is nothing better than for people
to eat and drink and to see the good in their hard work.
These beautiful gifts come from God’s hand.
– Ecclesiastes 2:24
How would you feel if you were about to move into your dream house? Welcome your first baby? Celebrate your first baby’s wedding?
You might be both excited and overwhelmed as you anticipate something so wonderful . . . and so stressful. Such happy occasions are also a lot of work, leaving us physically, emotionally and financially drained. They can cause enough commotion to disrupt even a well-ordered life.
Life’s great moments create a great deal of chaos.
The smaller ones do that, too.
Having people over for dinner. Having people stay overnight. Going on vacation—and getting back from one. Birthdays, school days and holidays. In our house, we observe a Festival of Chaos that begins around Halloween and lasts all the way through Easter. If we’re lucky, we may get a break before plunging into the madness that is The Last Week Month of School.
High times can be highly unsettling. Celebrations demand we pick up the pace when life is moving fast enough already. Celebrations take up space in crowded cabinets, checkbooks and calendars. I welcome the moments, but dread the disorder. Every year I resolve to get more organized: I will shop sooner, plan better, try harder. And every year, despite my best efforts, the chaos still catches me coming and going.
I’m reminded of Ma Ingalls’ advice to a daughter discouraged by the futility of try-harder living:
“This earthly life is a battle,’ said Ma. ‘If it isn’t one thing to contend with, it’s another. It always has been so, and it always will be. The sooner you make up your mind to that, the better off you are, and more thankful for your pleasures.” –Laura Ingalls Wilder, Little Town on the Prairie
Celebrations are a glorious mix of joy and confusion. And there’s a lot to be said for navigating them efficiently. But sometimes we act as if we can’t be “thankful for our pleasures” until we are done contending with them. Like Mary, we can get so distracted by the confusion that we overlook the Joy (Luke 10:38-41).
Fortunately for us, God has already made all the preparations we will ever need. When Jesus left to get ready for our heavenly housewarming, he made sure to leave his peace behind (John 14:27). Through him we find contentment in the middle of the chaos (Philippians 4:11). With him we celebrate the great moments, the small ones—and every moment in between.
This is the LORD’S doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD has made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
– Psalm 118:23-24