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Damn Seriousness

Last week our friend Dan came into town and stayed with us for a couple of nights. Ellie, Chad and I took him to the Y pool. After wearing out the water slide and other fun games in the pool, an ashen faced lifeguard instructed everyone to get out of the pool, and it wasn’t adult swim. As the lifeguards swiftly huddled with furrowed brows and anxious whispering, all the swimmers sat silently wondering what new disease we would wake up with the next morning from swimming in contaminated waters. We leaned in to watch the net scoop up a tiny brown ball and with Dan, who shares Terrell’s and my sense of humor like few others, I was crying I was laughing so hard at this whole scene. I truly could hardly breathe. And there were two ways the scenario could have ended perfectly (for the humor, that is): 1) it turned out actually to be poop which just seems perfect for the one time we take Dan to the pool with us or 2) it turned out not to be poop and the lifeguard, knowing this before anyone else, would pop the acorn in her mouth and declare after a contemplative moment “Nope! We’re good!” Why in the world do I share this story? Because most days have those kinds of moments that are truly hilarious “if you have eyes to see” them. Sometimes you need a Dan there with you to see it more clearly, sometimes you need to be on vacation or with a large group of friends. As a kid, I laughed so hard on a regular basis it became part of my M.O. Adulthood somehow sucks us into seriousness, alarmist tendencies and general scowls. Sadly, no pun intended, Christianity can do this too. Everything suddenly becomes heavy with perfectionism, intent on sanctification and the eradication of all sin or sinful inclinations…and most everything can somehow slip under that umbrella…maybe even pool poop. (: She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Prov. 31:25 Here is something I realized the other day: laughter requires strength and confidence. Fear sucks the laughter right out of the room. In contrast, laughter makes a situation less scary…it is why Chris Rock is a great opponent to scary bad guys. You actually feel safer in a threatening situation with someone who can find the humor in it. Humor shrinks the threat and puts it in its place. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. John 4:18 I lose the humor in my children’s crazy behavior sometimes because I fear it is an underlying sign of anarchy and disrespect. Seriously. Seriously? When I’m white knuckled in my day, I am fearing the consequences of not accomplishing something or failing to reach a certain goal. I’ll be in trouble. I’ll be excluded. I’ll be ruled out. I’ll be at the other end of someone’s disappointment. All this seriousness comes from a sense of walking through a mine field where the wrong step could be fatally explosive. Take precautions. Be on the lookout. Be scared. Be aware. Be careful. Yet I stand clothed in Christ where there is no condemnation, no fatal mistake I can make, no irreversible moment or unredeemable heart. The weight of becoming holy, of reflecting Jesus, of being involved in His redeeming work does not rest on my shoulders! The victory of God’s Kingdom over all evil, selfishness and injury is in His hands, which are quite capable and reliable. So, I can laugh and quit taking things so darn seriously. I can stand confidently in His righteousness and therefore laugh, heartily. I am no longer condemned, no longer damned literally, and that should make me celebrate, smile and maybe even respond with delighted laughter! And after all, what might point others to the glory of the person and work of Jesus, the abundant life of the One who controls all things, more? Deep, belly laughter or white knuckled scowls? Seriously, not a tough one. It turns out, better than Dan or vacation or a group of friends, it might be I just need Jesus there with me to give me eyes to see the light hearted side in each day. See, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind. But be glad and rejoice forever in what I will create, for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight and its people a joy. I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more. Is. 65:17-19

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