Remember that time God told you a joke? Maybe you do and maybe you don’t. Have you ever stopped to think on whether or not God even tells jokes? How about his laughter? Do you know what his laughter sounds like?
I remember one day walking home from our community pool. Outside of the refreshing water I was a drum the Florida sun beat on relentlessly. I sucked in some warm air and looked around. I had been thinking about the topic of God’s laughter and whether or not He had a sense of humor.
Remember that whole, “All you have to do in order to see God’s humor is look at a platypus” line? That’s all well and good but what about daily life? I hadn’t really experienced that part of God’s heart but I wanted to. It was as the humidity was drawing the moisture out of my body like a needle and syringe that God told me a joke.
I stopped in my tracks. Then I started to laugh. It was a joke about the relationship of our thirst for rational, and the supernatural world we live in. It was funny. That event seemed to open a door in my heart to receive a piece of God I’d been missing. I’d been searching for it but for some reason, up till then, hadn’t been able to see it.
Since that day I’ve asked ‘why?’ Why is it that so many of us have a hard time seeing the joy of God? Why do our ears seem deaf to his laughter? Why do we imagine his face serious so much more than silly?
Paul says in Romans 5:2 “…And let us rejoice and exult in our hope of experiencing and enjoying the glory of God.” And again in verse 11 “…but we also rejoice and exultingly glory in God [in his love and perfection] through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received an enjoy [our] reconciliation.” In fact, the tone of chapter five seems to be all about the wonderful reasons we have to laugh, rejoice, and celebrate.
There are many places throughout the bible that speak of the importance of joy, rejoicing, and celebration. Jesus himself, in Luke 10:21, “..rejoiced and gloried in the Holy Spirit…” It must’ve been awesome to see Jesus glory in the Holy Spirit. I don’t know what that looks like but it must’ve been an amazing party.
So why do we tend to leave this aspect of God’s character out of our perception so often? Why do so many of our messages and Christian songs focus only on who God is in our suffering, trials, and hard times? I would argue that for many of us, the dominant perception of God is one of compassion, sympathy and empathy. Holding our tears and our hands as we walk difficult roads. Of a stern face, always serious.
I want to be careful NOT to diminish the importance of God’s loving, compassionate nature. To be sure, he loves to pour out compassion, wipe our tears, and lead us step by step through the minefield of life and that part of him has been crucial to so many of us. But he also wants to dance with us, laugh with us, tell jokes with us, and just be a complete goofball along side of us. We need balance.
It’s not hard to understand why we would tend to be more aware of him during hard times. When we’re lost we need to reach out for him to lead us home. But what about the simple joys of life? How aware of him are we in thosemoments? The gift we got that we really wanted. The steak that was just right. The incredible sale we found. Our child’s “A” on the test (or B or C or D or better F than the last one).
It’s not easy to remember that an invisible God is always present. Do we tend to live like functioning atheists until we need the compassionate side of God? Maybe, maybe not. But maybe we could try to become more aware of the side of him that’s fun, joyful, and even silly. And not just in a church service or when we witness a miracle but in every smile of daily life.
Jesse and Kara Birkey