I’ve had this picture for a while, but every time I happen upon it, I smile. This picture just makes me happy. Now, the children in it are four of our great-grandsons. But I like this picture for another reason, too. The photographer has captured the essences of childhood: playtime, laughter, and the comradery among playmates and in this case, they happen to be cousins.
The picture also makes me think about us grown-ups. The other day someone mentioned that they had meant to take care of this or that (really don’t recall what it was). Then someone else asked, “Why didn’t you?”
Their answer was one I have used. “Life. Life got in the way of getting it done.”
We’ve all been there. Sometimes, we get so involved in life, going to work, attending meetings, taking care of the families, our houses and properties, and then there are those problems and valleys that just keep cropping up—the car breaks down, illness, broken relationships—and tragedies. All those things steal our joy, exhaust, and stress us to the point that we forget to enjoy life. We’ve lost touch with our inner-child and we forget to play. Will we ever learn? Even God rested on the seventh day, and He thinks we should too. In fact He commands us to do so. It’s number four in the Ten Commandments: Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy. He wanted us to spend that day in fellowship with Him, but I believe He knew that after working hard, we need to slow down and renew and refresh ourselves.
There’s a verse in Nehemiah that tells us what will happen when we rest on Sunday with our Creator. Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10 NIV. Did you catch that, the joy of the LORD is your strength. It’s as plain as the nose on our face. Still, we wonder why we often begin our work week on Monday feeling worse than we did on Friday. Really. Think. About. It. Things would go a lot better in life, if we’d read the word and do what it says.
So don’t let life get in the way, rest and renew with the Father and let Him restore your childlike laughter. There is a picture I just love called “The Laughing Christ.” Willis Wheatly of Canada did a pencil drawing of the first “Laughing Christ” back in 1973, forty-five years ago. Through the years, many other artists have come up with their versions, but the closest one I’ve seen, is Ralph Kozak’s at Praise Prints, LLC. You can read his story and even order a copy at his website: http://www.jesuslaughing.com/about-us.html
So did Jesus laugh? Scripture speaks of Him weeping, so why wouldn’t the opposite be true? There are so many verses on joy both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. How can you be joyful without laughter? I definitely think Jesus laughed and I’m basing that on the joyful Scriptures. You can find a list of joyful Scriptures at this website: http://www.jesuslaughing.com/joyful-scriptures.html.
Doctors also tell us laughter is good for our health, but God said it first in Proverbs, A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. Proverbs 17:22 ESV. That brings me to the conclusion that a good restful Sunday in the company of our Lord and friends can renew and refresh—helping us to be more childlike—you know, finding the joy you had back in the day. After all, didn’t Jesus say “I tell all of you with certainty, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven” Matthew 18:3 ISV.
Go on, let your spirit be filled with joy and laughter!