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"Numbering our days involves seasonal celebrations to mark certain things, to remind us of what He has done for us, to create a heart of wisdom that does not forget."
This time of year, one of my favorite things to do is talk to my friends and coworkers about their family traditions. There is something so beautiful about generation after generation doing the same thing the same time of year, and maybe adding to it with each new family member. When I was little, we did advent each night, reading the Christmas story from scripture, singing carols, and lighting the candles. Now, I go to my mum’s church with her on Christmas Eve for their Candlelight Service. Our family opens handmade stockings filled with little fun things on Christmas Eve (my mother has spent months this year making Baby Benji and Lady Eliza their new stockings since they’re around 2 now), then presents, one by one, on Christmas morning, followed by a huge meal. We also tend to watch the usual Christmas films from the day after Thanksgiving on, from “White Christmas” to “Elf”, “The Holiday” to “Die Hard.” Now that the little ones are around, we’ve added some “Thomas the Tank Engine” Christmas episodes into the mix. And of course, this year, we’ve also added the rewatching of the original 3 “Star Wars” movies (for there are only 3 that matter) into the mix to prepare for “The Force Awakens”. Perhaps that will become part of our December tradition in the future, who knows! All of these traditions revolve around family being together and celebrating.
In the past, there have been sects of Christianity that found such traditions and celebrations everything from frivolous to down-right idolatrous. And yes, while we can become distracted during the holidays and be tempted to worship the creation rather than the creator, it is good to remember that God himself instituted the celebrations of the Israelites so they would remember the good works He had done throughout the year. Most of these Old Testament celebrations involved elaborate traditions where the same thing was eaten, the same words were repeated, and the same worship was given to the Lord by families and friends.
Holidays and celebrations always make me think of Psalm 90 because, other than calendars on our walls and phones, they are the ways we mark time.
"So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!" –Psalm 90:12-17
The poet begins by begging the Lord to “teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom”. Numbering our days involves seasonal celebrations to mark certain things, to remind us of what He has done for us, to create a heart of wisdom that does not forget.
The Psalmist goes on to ask the Lord how long it will be before He returns, and begs for Him to have pity on us. Any looking back upon the previous year should cause us to look forward to His imminent return.
He asks for the Lord to satisfy us, as only He can, with his love that is immovable and everlasting SO THAT “we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” In the midst of our busy lives, it is integral to use the marking of days to remember that only God’s steadfast love can satisfy us. But instead of being stoic, we are meant to use this truth to rejoice and be glad! We are meant to be made glad not just looking back on the good, but even when remembering "affliction" and "evil" we have seen throughout the year because God is using these things to let His work and “glorious power” be shown.
At the end of our celebrations, we can always pray for “the favor of the Lord our God [to] be upon us” and look forward to the new year by asking Him to “establish the work of our hands.”
So this year, whether you’re family eats turkey or roast beast, whether you prefer the Grinch or (gasp!) the Elf on the Shelf, or whether you like Mariah Carey or Bing Crosby, use these holidays to allow God to give you a heart of wisdom.
Fawn currently works as the Client Services Director at a local pregnancy center and serves Cornerstone in the Biblical Counseling ministry.
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