Now, We Laugh

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The victory seemed sure. Against the odds death lashed this man to the wood, this wonder who spoke so much of life. Jesus had assaulted death’s kingdom at every turn, and now, with a final cry, he ran out of breath.

His body found a tomb, and fear stationed a rock and guards. These bouncers would let no one in.

They faced the wrong direction. They missed the show.

∞∞∞

Who knows what sounds or sights burst inside. Perhaps it was ear-splitting, a blinding flash. Maybe it was quiet and small, a hiccup of life stirring the body.

Jesus flung death aside and the boulder with it. The grave clothes lay discarded on the ground. The mighty guards passed out from fear, replaced by heavenly officers.

As he walked out of the tomb, Jesus laughed at death. The righteous Son of God had finished his work. Now he pulsed and thrummed with life.

∞∞∞

We follow our Savior between the times. We see the hatred and the grabbing of the old way, kicking and jerking toward and within us. We mourn and cry and resist.

But we are not all mourning. We know the new way. We laugh at the good news—not because it’s funny, but because it’s so good. We are amazed and overcome and grateful, and we laugh the laugh of those who are free.

We laugh that the good news would be spoken to us. We laugh that we would be loved and adopted. We laugh that we would be promised such a future.

∞∞∞

Death will make its final, futile attempts. It will throw us in the ground, a stone on top.

Who knows what sounds or sights will come. Jesus will fling death aside and the stone with it. The heavenly officers will take us further up and further in to the city coming down.

As we join the throng, we will laugh at death. Where is your sting? Where is your victory?

∞∞∞

Without the curse, without frustration and thorns, we will rejoice forever. In the presence of our Father, we will know as we have been fully known. In our joy, we will laugh.

That joy is not just for Then. It is not just for Easter morning. It is for now and now and now, because the bond Jesus secured cannot be broken. We are grabbed and held by everlasting, full-to-the-brim love.

We will laugh forever because we will be with God, safe. And we laugh now, because we need the practice.


Photo Credit: cheriejoyful (2011), Creative Commons License

What My Daughter Taught Me About Joy

There was a fight in my house on Sunday morning. A big one.

We separated the combatants, and no one was badly hurt. I’m not sure what started the conflict, but I was relieved to hear the elephant was not involved.

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Making the Bed

One morning a few months ago, my youngest daughter (4) was taking longer than usual to make her bed. It was Sunday and I was trying to herd my children toward the car.

I entered her room and saw her deep in thought and narration. After straightening her pillow, sheet, and comforter, she was arranging some stuffed animal friends on top of the bed. This was serious business.

The animals were going to church. The sanctuary (the bed) was all prepared and the preacher (a penguin) was ready to give his address from the pulpit (the pillow).

We’ve seen a similar drama unfold every Sunday since. There isn’t often conflict, but there is always a story.

Story and Joy

My children are constantly in the midst of a story. Their creativity bubbles and overflows, and I love it. (I blame and thank their mother.)

To me, making the bed is an easy, necessary task to complete as quickly as possible. I grumble throughout and take no pleasure in the chore.

But where I complain, my youngest delights. And she teaches me about her Creator.

Reflecting Our Creator

My daughter approaches work much more like God than I do.

He created and proclaimed it good. In every blue sky scattered with cottonball clouds, in every mud puddle begging for boots, in every colorful October leaf shower, can you see God’s playfulness? His delight? His pleasure in creating, sustaining, and spinning our earth on his finger?

Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, God must be the most joyous. This, despite so many efforts to paint him as severe, brooding, and dour. He is no British matriarch on PBS.

Yes, God is holy and his holiness demands obedience. But holiness is not drudgery. Obedience is not grim. For the Christian, growth in obedience parallels growth in joy.

Our Source of Joy

I don’t mean our lives are all balloons and confetti. But the joy of the Lord is deep, warm, and abiding. This joy remains precisely because it doesn’t depend on circumstances.

Our joy is rooted in a restored, permanent relationship with God. We have the promise of a future with him and a foretaste of it now. That God makes this joy available and free to his enemies is unimaginable.

And yet, there was a great cost to providing this joy. Though it was for “the joy set before him,” Jesus endured the cross. Because of our sin, Jesus’s joyous fellowship with God was broken for a time so we might know the unending joy of reconciliation with the Father.

Imagine not just the confusion and wonder at the discovery of the empty tomb, but picture the joy that first Easter morning. Jesus is alive! Death is not the champion—Jesus is!

Pursue Joy in the Lord

While stunning and earth-shattering, this truth has practical implications: more smiling, more singing, less complaining. This godly joy should trickle and seep into every second of every day.

Because God is king and Jesus is alive, we can find joy in even the most mundane tasks. Just ask my daughter—she’d be glad to show you.


Photo Credit: anonymous, Public Domain