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Filled with Laughter

Looking at his disciples, he said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. Luke 16:20-21

My adorable parents, who will have been married 38 years next week, flew up to Connecticut yesterday to attend the high school graduation of one of their former students at Atlanta Youth Academy. Many of the AYA 8th grade graduates are the first in their families to graduate from high school and to then attend college, so each mile marker is all the more worth celebrating, and worth the travel expenses to do so in person. So, as my parents were enjoying their flight, the pilot came over the intercom to make his routine announcements. He had a little something extra for my parents: “We have some very special guests with us today – Chuck and JoElyn Johnston in seats 22A and 22B! They are flying on their honeymoon and what is more remarkable, this is Chuck’s 7th marriage!” (My soon to be brother-in-law works in Air Traffic Control at the Atlanta airport and has a direct line to the pilots. I’m now an even bigger fan of his than I already was…if only I could have seen their faces!) I just laughed and laughed when Dad reported this, after beginning with, “Well, we survived the flight and the guy accross the aisle from me thinks I’m some kind of hero.”

What does this have to do with the person and work of Jesus? Well, no more or less than everything else in our lives. Do we separate the sacred from the secular, as if there is a distinction? Are our spiritual lives limited to the more obviously religious aspects, or does His rule and reign encompass it all? Do I really think that only topics that are fitting for a stern old woman wearing a tight bun in her hair are the things God is interested in or, is it possible, He is the God of hearty laughter too?

You alone are the LORD. You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you. Nehemiah 9:6

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. Acts 17:24-25

Why do I restrict God’s interests and domain to the “temples” of my own making (chronic illnesses, unpaid bills, divided marriages, mental illness, sorrows, brokenness and crisis-only prayer requests)? My worship in these temples is of the sorrow, the heart ache, the “seen” of His unfinished business instead of the certainty of things hoped for in His Kingdom. Do I miss celebrating His power at work within us because I am so fixated on His not using His power to do what I want on the outside of us? Isn’t He the one who gives life, abundant life, even to dead and dry bones? Isn’t one of the greatest signs of life rib cracking, tear streaming, undignified laughter?

What do I believe about His dominion over all of creation? What if God told us to “be anxious for nothing” not as a new law to obey but as an explanation of the benefits to us of His rule and reign even now?

Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy. Psalm 126:2-3

Genuine laughter comes when I feel most free, most relaxed, most “full” with the present company. Isn’t that a picture of shalom? The person and work of Jesus remembers the Garden and points to an even better fulfillment of that time which was only a shadow of the Kingdom to come. When I am enjoying my environment, my fellow men, myself and my God, laughter can serve as a reminder to my own heart that He reigns so that joy may reign as well.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever. Psalm 136:3

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