A few months ago I was watching my favorite college football team play a game against an opponent that was far below their perceived talent level. By all stretches, my team, should have easily blown out the opponent by 3-4 touchdowns. As the fourth quarter approached, the score was much closer than anyone anticipated. Actually the game was tied and my team was playing horribly. At this point I’m wondering if my team is going to blow this opportunity for a win and lose to such an easy opponent. By the end of the game it took a last minute drive and touchdown to finally seal the win. As a fan I was dejected at the final score knowing that my team should have won by multiple touchdowns, but noticed something very interesting with the players and coaches. As players ran on the field to celebrate, most of them were smiling and jumping and acting as if they had won a huge football game. When it was time for the post game interviews, every player had the same big smile and joy of winning that game. I remember distinctly the best player on the team being the most excited of all the other teammates. What was I missing that they were so happy about? Didn’t they just play the same game I watched. Even the coach was happy with the win! What seemed like an odd reaction to me was celebrated on the sideline and in the locker room.
GOD gives us the perfect picture of celebrating our small victories in the story of the prodigal son. Most of the time when we read this story we see ourselves as the son who returns to the Father and receives forgiveness, grace, and a new beginning, but I want to look at the story from the father’s perspective. The son basically demanded his portion of the family inheritance and ran off to another country. As a father myself, I can imagine his concern for his son as he watched him leave with all that money. He probably tried to talk his son into staying or at least imparted some wisdom on how to make his inheritance last. I’m sure there were many nights where the father would walk outside and look to the stars and wonder where his son was and how he was doing. And then there was that fateful day-the father was out in the yard when he saw a familiar face walking down the driveway.
But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry. Luke 15:20-24
The father celebrated the arrival of the son! All those nights praying, waiting, hoping the son would come home finally arrived and he threw the son a party. The father wanted to celebrate this small victory. He could have easily scolded his son for wasting his inheritance or for living sinfully, but instead he took that opportunity to pay a tribute to his return. His son was lost and now he was found! We need to do the same thing in our lives. Everyday we can celebrate the small victories, instead of condemning ourselves for things done wrong in the past. Paul was the perfect example of this. The man who wrote 2/3 of the New Testament also spent the beginning of his life murdering Christians and trying to destroy anything that mentioned the name of Jesus. He knew what it meant to celebrate the small victories in life. In Romans 8: 1-2 he writes:
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”
We need to learn to celebrate our victories in this life. If you struggle with self doubt or feelings of insecurity, celebrate when you have the courage to speak up or step out no matter the significance. If you have bitterness or resentment towards someone or something, celebrate the moments that you pray for that certain person or thing. For many, pornography is a huge battle, celebrate when you tell yourself no and you decide to look away. Look for opportunities to see God’s goodness and victories in your life. Many times we don’t win by 3 or 4 touchdowns. Sometimes we should have easily won the game, but we stumble, and fight, and finally make it into the end-zone with time expiring to win the game. 20 years from now when you look back on this season of your life, you’re not going to look at the way you won the game, but you’re going to look at the score board and know that you scored more points than the other team and you were victorious! Celebrate your victories. GOD does and so should you!