Category Archives: laughter

Can’t help myself!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God said, “let there be light..let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear…let the land produce vegetation… let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night”…God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.

(Gen 1.1,3,9,11,14&31)

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is the son of man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honour.

(Ps 8.1-5)

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul. Awake, harp and lyre! I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, higher than the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens, and let your glory be over all the earth.

(Ps 108.1-5)

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

(James 1.17&18)

Do you ever think about praise as a means of defeating evil? That is how the psalmist describes it in Psalm 8, giving the voices of children raised in faith the power to advance God’s kingdom and silence the wicked! I love this, because it helps me to understand why it is always good to praise God, even when we are in trouble, weighed down by burdens of our own, or those of others.

When we declare in the face of the darkness that God is, that he is good, loving, faithful and utterly trustworthy, then the kingdom is being built. We may not see how God uses those statements of faith, sometimes whispered from breaking hearts, but he does.

And sometimes, in spite of the darkness in the world around us, we are simply prompted to praise by the beauty we see around us – and living where I do now, this happens very frequently! I sing with the psalmist, from a heart that overflows with delight, gratitude and deep joy, responding to the light, the colours, the sights, smells and sounds around me. I am so thankful to be alive today; so thankful for the physical strength which I have been given to move and work and play; deeply grateful for the mind and spirit which enable me to appreciate and grow in love for my God and all he has done.

God made it, and made it very good; and even all the consequences of human rebellion cannot disguise the vision of the creator, or take all the joy out of creation’s natural constant song of praise to its maker. The mountains and seas rejoice in their elements, the wind whispers and roars songs of praise; the trees and flowers of the field shout ‘Glory!’, and the creatures each in their place display his power, might, and delight in details and in the ridiculous.

I am made in God’s image, I share in some small way the delight which God has in all he has made – so that my joy in the beauty around me is a right and proper thing; a gift to be rejoiced in, and given thanks for. When I am gladdened, lifted up in my spirit, I sing thanksgivings in my heart to my Father God, and in sharing my joy, I am enriched and He is exalted because all the glory goes to Him.

Let me never neglect this ministry of rejoicing before my God, of fulfilling my debt of thanksgiving and praise, so that I might do my part in advancing his kingdom, standing against evil and proclaiming Christ’s victory. Let my voice not be silent among the chorus of creation, because I am both made and remade, I have double reason to shout alongside the trees, the birds, the glory of light upon the water and the wind over the moors!

Shout with joy, all my being rejoice and sing before your Lord and King; exult in his goodness and acknowledge in all things that He is God!

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Gifts overflowing…

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving towards all he has made. The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. He fulfils the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

(Ps 145.16-19)

Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies.

Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created. He set them in place for ever and ever; he gave a decree that will never pass away.

Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, you mountains and all hills…

(Ps 148.1-9)

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life..Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?…But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

(Matt 5.25,26&27,33&34)

I have been challenged recently about my ability to take each day and use it well, not borrowing tomorrow’s troubles and also not neglecting today’s opportunities. There are so many small and mundane things that go to make up my daily life, it is all too easy to see them as a drudge, instead of the service to which I am called by my Lord at this time and in this place. I want to choose contentment in each day’s allotted tasks, fulfilling my duties with a cheerful spirit, and trusting that God sees and is glorified in these small things.

But as well as daily duties, there is also the promise of daily provision for my needs – the physical needs for shelter and food; the emotional needs of connection and satisfying activity; the spiritual needs of communion with my Lord and the reviving power of time spent in praising and thanking him, and appreciating all the good things I have received. Because Jesus has died for me, I am a beloved child of the Almighty, assured of his care for every part of my life and his promise that I matter to him.

And sometimes, I seem to receive a bumper parcel of good things, so that the whole day becomes a celebration, a private rejoicing between me and my Father who has sent so much for me to enjoy; calling me to focus on his goodness and abandon myself to thankfulness and delight in what he gives.

Today is one of those days…there are few and small duties, no household tasks that require urgent attention, and in the brilliance of the sunshine over the snow-clad hills, the calm burnished surface of the water, the voices of the birds in the thickets and the warmth of the sun on my skin I receive a bounty of good things. So I shall make today a holiday – a holy day, set apart for special times with my Father, my heart full of thankfulness for the senses, health, security and freedom which allow me to absorb so much beauty.

We are known and loved intimately by our creator. He knows how to speak his love into each heart, knows exactly what will tell us most profoundly of his delight in us and his acceptance of us. No two people will react in the exactly the same way to what I can see around me today – such is the infinite variety of our God in his creative power! But in each and every one of us, there is the potential to respond in loving and joyful adoration, exuberantly or silently, but always giving him the glory.

Let me celebrate with my Father today, as simply and profoundly as a child who lives every moment as it comes, extracting all the joy from each experience and not worrying about tomorrow. Let his love and overflowing goodness towards me fill and strengthen me; his beauty in creation show me the beauty which is his nature; and let his peace rule in my heart so that I let all my tomorrows remain safely held in his hands.

Seriously funny!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:….A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance 

(Ecclesiastes 3 v 1 & 4)

Some months ago, I was in a situation which was proving very painful to bear. I could not leave it, but had to remain committed to the job I was doing, caring for and supporting my team, and trusting God for strength and patience to deal with my inner turmoil.

One evening, I had the chance to go for a walk in the countryside and I was baring my soul to my faithful and long-suffering Father God, crying and letting him see the pain, knowing that He understood and accepted me. This kind of prayer-walking is very therapeutic for me – and it helped also being out in a beautiful place. Then I rounded a bend in the road to find about 20 young pheasants coming towards me. They were big enough to be out on their own, but what a ridiculous sight they presented! Their necks were stretched in anxiety as they searched for a way off the road, darting hither and thither, looking for gaps in the fence, and clearly clueless about where to go.

I burst out laughing, with the tears still wet on my face, and admitted to God that he had found the perfect way to help me break the melancholy and self-pitying mood I had fallen into! I sat under a convenient tree and continued to watch the birds, enjoying the absurdity of their behaviour, and giving thanks for God’s perfect timing.

I am so thankful that God has chosen to give us the gift of laughter, the ability to appreciate the absurd, to make jokes and play with words. We know from experience that humour can be used to diffuse tension, to break down barriers and create a sense of community. And it is my experience that I feel the physical benefits of a good laugh – once my sides have stopped aching! My own sense of humour is perhaps a little unusual – hence the photograph of the savoy cabbage leaves which heads up this post… I happen to find the extraordinary shaping and texture of these leaves very funny, and just looking at the picture always makes me smile.

There can be a danger that I take the presence of darkness, pain and suffering in the world to imply that there is no space for feeling light-hearted, or appreciating the funny as well as beautiful things around me. But the writer in Ecclesiastes carefully balances weeping with laughter, and mourning with dancing. As does the apostle Paul when he writes to the church in Rome, reminding them to share in the gladness of those who rejoice, as well as to share in the sadness of those who mourn (Romans 12 v 15). The bible teaches that the victory over all the darkness is won, and that I can and must live in the light of that truth. My laughter over the young pheasants did not change my situation, nor did it diminish the real pain I had experienced, but it helped me to stop focussing on the troubles and to remember the love which is always with me.

I think that we should be deeply grateful for this gift, and celebrate the goodness of our amazing God in creating us to laugh! I am going to finish today with a list, which you can use to start off your own list of things that you smile just to think about.. And I pray that in your laughing, you will be eased, and enriched as you share the joke with the God who thought of it in the first place.

Penguins; lambs springing in the fields at dusk; baby animals; giraffe necks; elephant ears; the duck-billed platypus; babies sneezing; a large gathering of people all trying to do an action song at full speed; giant pandas; the fact that men’s ears continue to get bigger as they grow older; tubas and trombones; being able to pull faces; the idiotic smiles of dogs; the disdainful smirk of cats; whiskers; the way our ears stick out; hamsters; bagpipes; animals that bounce (rabbits, kangaroos); dimples…..   over to you!