Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Then our mouth will be filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy;

then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”

The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad.

Psalm 126: 2, 3

Living a righteous life in full view of a world that is at best apathetic and is more likely antagonistic is serious business. This can become stern, grit your teeth and put your shoulder to it work. Yet, my mental images of Jesus are not all that serious; I imagine Him with a look of love and compassion; I see Him with his arms open wide in a gesture of welcome that prepares for an embrace; I contemplate Christ smiling and laughing with those around Him. I think that Jesus probably greeted a skeptical world with a smile as his first words; then, perhaps with a disarming laugh at moment of natural humor.

We are beings that were made with the capacity for humor and with a need to laugh and to smile. God created us that way; I think that He enjoyed the smiles and the laughter of Adam and Eve in those pre sin days in the garden. I think that God loves to hear us laughing with the fearless joy of living the life that He has called us to live. The contagious sound of laughter as it ripples like a stream through the hurried noise of life has a soothing and a restorative effect upon this stressful world.

Our faces are the most visible indicators of our heart’s condition; our voices are its expression. Just as God is saddened by our sin, He is delighted by our joy. Sometimes it requires planning and purpose to smile, some days are not so naturally filled with laughter; however, expressions of heart-deep joy can be present on our faces if we seek God’s peace and plan to show it to the world. When smiles and laughter come from the center of your being, when Christ is their source, the Lord will shine out from your face. His truth can speak more clearly through joyous laughter than through the most insightful use of words. This is a world full of people who are longing for laughter and seeking after a smiling face; so, let the face that they see be Christ’s image shining through His own people.

You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

Psalm 139: 5

War, bombing, terrorists, earthquakes, tsunamis and hurricanes, murder, robbery, financial failure, drunken drivers, angry outbursts, hatred, fear, sadness, and loss; these are the themes from today’s news. These are the wake up call of a world that is not just decaying but of one that is in its death throes. We are all faced with this sort of happy greeting any time we read the paper, watch television, listen to news radio, or just talk to someone who has done one of these things. Although, some of these awful events are happening elsewhere in the world, some are very personal, and all affect the lives of people and our own sense of sanity; that is, the basic concept that there is a reasonable and understandable underpinning to daily life.

Now, for the sake of a little comfort, read the Prophet Daniel’s writing and the Apostle John’s description of the end times; then, start to match the news of the day and the progressive increases in the amounts and the levels of evil and destruction in our world, and it is easy to become very concerned about the future. It is natural; it is rational to be so concerned. These are concerns that God has an answer for. He has been preparing His children for these events since the world was created.

In fact, God wants us to look at the openness of the evil around us and at the fear and concern on the minds of people as opportunity. We have a very receptive audience for the message regarding the only reliable bank and the only safe harbor; for the only stability that there is in this world. This is a time to talk in terms of protection for the soul and in terms of investment in eternity. This is the time to be fearless and to be lovingly so when we look into the terror struck eyes of our neighbor. God surrounds us with His presence, His angels envelop us like a force field of protection, and He keeps a steadying hand on us always.

God tells us that there will be very bad events and truly evil times ahead; it doesn’t matter what you may believe regarding the way that all of this will play out, for it is real. What is important is this; in Christ, there is no way, none that evil can get to you at a level that matters. By being in a relationship with Christ, your soul is secure, your eternity is determined, and your mission is defined. Go and love others, go and tell them about real security, go and share the story of Jesus in your life. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28: 19a.