One of my favorite authors is John Ortberg, the former senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church. This story comes from his book about spiritual disciplines, “The Life You’ve Always Wanted.”
“Mallory (his youngest daughter) was out of the water (after bathing), but was doing what has become known in our family as the Dee Dah Day dance. This consists of her running around and around in circles, singing over and over again, “Dee dah day, dee dah day.” It is a relatively simple dance expressing great joy. When she is too happy to hold it in any longer, when words are inadequate to give voice to her euphoria, she has to dance to release her joy. So she does the Dee Dah Day. On this particular occasion, I was irritated. “Mallory, hurry!” I prodded. So she did- she began running in circles faster and faster and chanting “dee dah day” more rapidly. “No, Mallory, that’s not what I mean! Stop with the dee dah day stuff, and get over here so I can dry you off. Hurry! Then she asked a profound question: “Why?”
John Ortberg goes on to explain that he had no answer, and was so caught up in hurrying through life, and self-preoccupation with agendas and tasks that needed to be done that he was missing it. He was missing a chance to experience joy, and an invitation to dance.
Believe it or not, celebration is listed as a spiritual discipline in which we should engage. Spiritual disciplines are described as habits, practices and experiences that are designed to grow and strengthen to make us spiritually fit and healthy. The Bible does not include a set list, but spiritual disciplines were practiced by Jesus, and can include study, prayer, fasting, confession worship, fellowship, rest, celebration, service, generosity, chastity and disciple making. When we “train ourselves to be godly”, we are intentionally putting structure in our lives to grow spiritually.
There are many scriptural references to joy and celebration. The Apostle Paul wrote, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4) “… for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). Even in creation there is celebration, “You will go out in joy and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands” (Isaiah 55:12).
What can you do to train and practice celebration? Laugh. Sing. Dance. Play. Eat. Refresh your spirit. Do all things reflecting on the wonderful God who has given us such wonderful gifts. We can take delight in something today that we wouldn’t have even noticed yesterday. Practice directing your heart toward God. Keep practicing because any training does take practice. As we practice celebration, our very capacity for joy increases and joy is at the very heart of God Himself.
Begin now! Don’t wait! Do not say, “I’ll start tomorrow and just endure life until then.” Do not say, “Yesterday was God’s day because I was happy then.” Instead proclaim as the Psalmist did in Psalms 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
So what happened with John and Mallory? “So I got up, and Mallory and I did the Dee Dah Day dance together. She said I was pretty good at it too, for a man my age.”
Every tick of the clock is a gift from God. Every day is a Dee Dah Day. You don’t want to miss it.
** Pastor’s Note: This whole week has been a “Dee Dah Day” for me. First, Lisa and I got to get away for the week down here in beautiful Charleston, South Carolina. We are here to celebrate Dad’s 90th birthday, and it has been a grand time as family came from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas to be here. And then last night, My son, Tim, and his wife, Amanda, announced that they are having a baby. So come April, I will become a grandfather for the first time. A Dee Dah Day, indeed!
This Sunday, September 25, Chestnut Level’s former interim pastor, and friend to the congregation, Guy Dunham, will be the guest minister. We will be inside the sanctuary for the 8:00 am service, and of course, at 10:30 am. For the 10:30 service, we will also be broadcasting on Zoom, Facebook Live, and YouTube.