Posted by Gareth Gilkeson on 10 June 2014

A few years back I was sitting in a field as the sun rose behind the typical Irish morning mist. All was still. All was magical. And then it happened. My eyes were opened to a truth that I had overlooked despite years of faithful church attendance: that I was not alone lost in life, that I was not condemned, that I was free. And as quick as that revelation settled upon me, an uncontrollable urge to respond erupted within me. So I jumped to my feet and started sprinting through the fields like a wild man, laughing and crying with pure joy. 

For too many years I had lived with a sense that childlike wonder was best reserved for children. I had grown up, become an adult and therefore believed that I should respond to life and faith in an adult way: to observe, to assess, to withdraw. 

Too many of us have followed the trail of breadcrumbs that take us away from whatever it is in our past that we hope to leave behind - whether it’s pain or insecurity, suffering or self-doubt. We sign up for the unspoken hope that in becoming a spectator in life we can find safety. 

But it’s a lie. Being a spectator does not breed safety. It breeds comparison, an endless measuring of our lives up against others. And that, my friends, is toxic to the human soul. 

That morning in the field opened my eyes, heart and lungs to the reality of what GK Chesterton tagged ‘the furious love of God’. It’s a love that, if we let it, can tear down our defences and spark in us an irresistible urge to respond. It’s a love that can cause even the heaviest heart to sing and the most broken of bodies to dance. It’s a love that leads us into the thing that was missing most from my life for so many years: celebration.  

Celebration is opposite to comparison. It is fuelled by thankfulness and throws its arms wide open for all to join in. Celebration is not a life choice for extroverts or a means of boosting an ego. It’s as much an essential for life as air and food and water. For, as Jean Vanier wrote:

“Every child, every person needs to know that they are a source of joy; every child, every person, needs to be celebrated. Only when all of our weaknesses are accepted as part of our humanity can our negative, broken self-images be transformed.” 

I hope that in these coming blogs, you and I can take some steps together - however small they may be - towards a new understanding of the life that God has given it to each of us; that you and I don’t need to be spectators, but celebrators.



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