An Invitation to Celebrate

January 17, 2020 | Written by Erin Ahnfeldt

This past Monday, head football coach Dabo Swinney led his Clemson Tigers against LSU in the College Football National Championship. After they won it all last year, he shouted into a microphone, “You can’t write a Hollywood script like this. Only God can do this, and that’s a fact! And people may think I’m crazy or quacky or whatever, but only God can orchestrate this. No Hollywood producer can write it.”

If you haven’t already seen the video, you should. He says those words at about the 3:50 mark, and the joy exploding from his heart is something to see.

It’s a glimpse of what real joy looks like because what He’s talking about goes beyond the circumstance of winning a football game.

In the midst of the band playing, the confetti still falling, and the crowd screaming, he let the world know there’s a God who makes our mess into something beautiful. He was celebrating more than a football victory, and when any of us acknowledge God’s work in our lives like that, we’re taking three critical steps in our spiritual journey.

Noticing what God is doing creates a thankful heart, and that pleases Him.

Psalm 107:8-9 says, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.”

My sister has a pretty cool spiritual hack. Whenever something happens she knows is from God, she says out loud, “I receive that Lord,” even if it’s just for a great parking spot. She celebrates what God did. People may snicker at her or roll their eyes, but her four little ones watching are learning, in a very real way, that “every good and perfect gift is from the Lord” (James 1:17).

In a world becoming increasingly comfortable, we’re tempted to think that what we enjoy is a result of our own efforts. Acknowledging God’s work in our lives keeps us from falling into that trap.

Noticing God’s work in our lives affirms that He’s the Author of our stories, not us.

This truth hit home the first time I asked my wife on a date.

Driving to a class where I knew she would be walking through the door, I prayed, “God, if you want me to ask Deb on a date, would you make it happen.” She arrived, gliding through the door like an angel. My mouth dried up as I thought about what I might say, but she didn’t even see me. I swallowed hard, trying to take the subtle rejection in stride. “Maybe after class,” I thought.

When class was over, I stood by the door waiting, blood pulsing through my veins, but she never came. She was lingering with some friends. Figuring God had given me His answer, and needing a moment to calm down, I went to my car.

There was one problem—I couldn’t leave. A little red sports car was parallel-parked right in front of me. As I was about to get out of my car to find the rude culprit, my future wife came to my window. “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I blocked you in.” The plan I had in mind didn’t happen. We didn’t sit by each other in the meeting, and she didn’t rescue me when I was standing alone. Like a drive-thru order at Chick-fil-A, God brought this gorgeous brunette right to my window. He answered my prayer, and my heart leapt within me.

With a smile I’m sure was on His face, God proved two things that day: He sees us, and He writes the story.

Telling the stories of God orchestrating events in our lives stirs up hope.

A very strong argument can be made that the reason people follow Dabo Swinney is not because of his football knowledge or even his charismatic personality. People follow him because he’s so good at spreading hope. When he sees God doing something, he doesn’t keep it to himself. He celebrates by telling people about it. All the players on his team felt they were wrapped up in something bigger than themselves, and most of them believed what he preached—that there’s a God who has a plan for them, and that plan is good. The more we point out where we see that plan unfolding, the more people begin to believe that maybe it’s true, and the more God is lifted up, but the stories need to be told.

After we begin noticing God at work, we need to talk about it. Like a wild prairie fire, the early church exploded into existence because people couldn’t stop talking about what God was doing, and that same fire can be spread today.

Starting on February 2nd at Pulpit Rock Church, you are invited to celebrate!

Every Sunday during the 10:30 service, it will be my great privilege to facilitate a Sunday School class aimed at doing exactly what Dabo Swinney did. We’ll talk about what it means to “notice” God by taking a closer look at His authorship in the lives of some people in the Bible.

Then, we’ll turn our attention toward our own stories, and through personal reflection, we’ll look for what He’s doing there. It’s my prayer that the discussions we have in that room will spread a little hope for us and bring a whole lot of glory to God.

In a world moving so fast, it’s hard to be still and notice God at all, let alone notice what He’s doing as the Author of our stories. This class will be our place to finally be still and know that He is indeed God not only over all creation but also over every page of every chapter of our lives.

Come join us on February 2nd, and give yourself some space to know and see God in a new way.

Sign up for Erin’s class, Seeing God in Our Story.

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6 thoughts on “An Invitation to Celebrate”

  1. Erin,
    What a great topic to study. Personal stories of how God worked and is continuing to work is always so uplifting and encouraging. I thank the Lord for parking spots, too! And I loved your story! God is so cool! It’s also so exciting to see all the Christians in sports these days. I just feel badly for the Christians who lost. I hope they can see that it’s part of God’s perfect plan for us. Blessings on your new class I wish I was there to attend. Claudia

    • Claudia,
      Thanks for reading the article and for your comments. Bringing up the Christians who lost is so important. It’s easy to think that God’s story of our lives only includes what we would consider successful and good, but sometimes His desire for us may look at the time like failure. Those are good stories to tell as well. Your insights always mean so much. God bless, sister!

  2. Dear Erin, I have had this message in my e-mail for quite sometime and I just opened my I-pad this morning and there it was. Just what I needed for today. A reminder that God is in control of my life. He has done more wonderful things for then I can even write down. I have been diagnosed with breast cancer and I can see God working His way through that. What a story I have about my life and the blessings I have been given even through these hard times in. My life. Thank you

    • Melinda,
      I am so sorry about your diagnosis. That kind of news is hard to swallow, but let me say that your trust in God’s control, even in the storm, challenges me so much. It’s one thing to say that God is writing the story when things are easy, but when things are hard, and you’re still believing that He is the Author, that’s incredible! Thank you for your example to me and so many others who know you!


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