We love to be celebrated. There's something in us that comes alive at applause or a good word, and so often, we seek these very things. We seek them from other persons, from ourselves, even from God.
But when was the last time you did something that made the heavens rejoice?
It's one thing to earn the praise of men. Men have their own standards, and those standards shift according to the circumstance. At work, maybe it's sealing that big deal. At home, maybe it's booking that long-awaited family vacation. At church, maybe it's stepping into the next role in leadership. Wherever we are, we know what the persons around us are looking for, and we know what happens when we provide that: there is applause and a few good words. It's satisfying, for a time, but eventually, these very persons who rejoiced over us turn their eyes to someone else. They're looking already for the next guy to do the next thing. We're all but forgotten.
It's one thing to earn the praise of ourselves. Sometimes, there are things we just want to do; persons we just want to be. I want to be the kind of girl who _______, fill in the blank. Maybe it's "speaks her mind more often" or "is honest about herself" or "goes skydiving." Maybe you want to be the kind of guy who stops chasing the world, who finds contentment with his life, who catches and fries his own catfish. Whatever it is, we keep setting goals for ourselves. And sometimes, we're blessed enough (or crazy enough) to achieve them. Then we look in the mirror and rejoice over ourselves. Yes, we are finally persons who (whatever). It's satisfying for a time, but when we don't keep doing those kinds of things, we feel it. We feel the disappointment settling in. Suddenly, we're not looking forward any more. We're not even looking at the now. We're looking at the past and wistfully remembering the days when we were the person who (whatever). Once upon a time, you were the girl who.... or you were the guy who.... and you wonder what happened to that person. Where did that person go? You feel like you've lost touch with some essential part of yourself somehow, and so often, it feels like you're never going to get it back.
It's even something to receive the praise of God. Here starts to be a bit trickier because, of course, we want God to celebrate who we are. We want to be the kind of persons He can celebrate, the kind of persons He wants us to be. And here, it's a bit easier because God clearly tells us what kind of persons He wants us to be. He has laid it out in His Word; He has shown us in the example of His Son. He whispers little reminders of faithfulness throughout our lives that remind us, this is who you are. There's no doubt that when we listen, when we heed those reminders, God rejoices over us. It's an incredible feeling, and one that is not to be dismissed or diminished. But...I don't know what it is. I don't know if it's the little kid inside of each of us that wants to be independent or if it's the effects of sin or what it is, but there's something about us that doesn't feel purely good about simply being persons who follow directions. God rejoices over us, and we appreciate that, but in our core, we know it's just because we do what we're told. Is that who we are? Are we just people who do what we're told? Is that all we were meant to be? God rejoices, but is that all He wanted, all He expected of us?
It's kind of...disappointing. Right?
And I'm not saying we shouldn't be persons who do what God asks of us. We absolutely should be. But we have to be very careful what we're doing and how we're doing it. When we are doing what God asks of us just to earn His praise, just to receive His rejoicing, of course it's going to feel hollow. Of course we're going to feel like trained seals. Of course there's going to be something essential missing. And when we're doing the faithful thing just so God can see us do the faithful thing, we feel like we have to keep getting God's attention. Like we have to keep saying, look at me! Look at me, God! I'm going to do the faithful thing! Are You watching?
That's why I think we have to look further even than God, because we've come to such a place where we're just manipulating God (or think we are), where God has in some ways become a reflection of ourselves. Which leads back to the original question - have you ever done anything that made the heavens rejoice?
Because it's one thing to seek the praise of men, of ourselves, and even of our God, but it's another thing entirely when the heavens rejoice.
The heavens rejoice because you've done something that is so wholly in harmony with God's intended design. They haven't told you to do it; the heavens don't speak. They haven't guided you to do it; there's no sign in the stars. They've simply been watching, waiting, to see what you might do, and you've done something so naturally you that the natural world around you sings. The heavens...they're just busy being the heavens. They're doing what the heavens do. And when you do what you do, what you most naturally, most created-ly do, they know that they've found in you a kindred spirit. They know that in this moment, so far as you and they are concerned, all of creation is set right again. Even for the briefest of breaths, all is well. It is...good. And so the heavens do what they were created to do.
It's satisfying for a moment and then far beyond. Because the heavens? The heavens are always watching. Eagerly, but not anxiously. They hold their breath, not because they hope you might do this or that but because they know you must do something. And when you do that beautiful thing, the heavens exhale and rejoice. And what is that beautiful thing?
It is you.
The world is waiting on you to do what it wants you to do. You're waiting to do what you think you should do. You've conceptualized God to wait on you to do what you think He hopes you would do. But the heavens are waiting on you to do what you were created to do. The heavens are waiting on you to just do you. They just know that the same hand that stretched them out over the earth knit you together in your mother's womb. They know you're watching them do what they do, and they're watching, waiting, to see you do what you do.
So do what you do. Do what you were created to do.
Let the heavens rejoice.