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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The gift of laughter

Did you ever stop to consider laughter a gift?  It seems our writer of this psalm did - and it suggests God is actually honored by our laughter.  Not by our mocking laughter, but the laughter of delight, joy, and overwhelming awe. If you have ever seen a little guy shoot a free throw from mid-court and land it with nothing but air, you might have experienced this free-will laughter - delight in his success, joy in his having done what others put down as impossible, or overwhelming awe that a little guy just sank the "hoop of a lifetime".  I wonder just how many times God lands the "shot of a lifetime" in our lives and we take the opportunity to celebrate with the gift of laughter?

On your feet now—applaud God!  Bring a gift of laughter, sing yourselves into his presence.  Know this: God is God, and God, God.  He made us; we didn’t make him.  We’re his people, his well-tended sheep.  Enter with the password: “Thank you!”  Make yourselves at home, talking praise.  Thank him. Worship him.  For God is sheer beauty, all-generous in love, loyal always and ever.  (Psalm 100 MSG)

Our writer suggests coming into God's presence with laughter and singing.  In other words - celebrate a little.  God's presence is not just a place of quiet repose - it is a place of delighted ecstasy!  We are to enjoy being there!  Getting into his presence is half the battle, isn't it?  It takes us a while to actually center our focus well enough to shut out the pull of everything else and actually find delight in just being there with him.  Maybe if we took the path of laughter and song a little more, we'd be inclined to travel this path with more frequency!

The statement, "GOD is God, and God, GOD", has some meaning we should not just gloss over.  As our writer instructs, he calls us to our feet.  In getting to our feet, what are we doing?  We are directing our attention because it takes some effort to move from a place of repose to a place of alertness.  Try standing up and see how long you stay in that position if you are not awake!  I think our psalmist is telling us to really enjoy our time with our Lord, we need to be fully aware of having entered into his presence - because we don't just get there accidentally.

So, what meaning does this statement have?  First, understand he uses two terms to describe God.  This was not uncommon in the language of Hebrew.  The attributes of a person were often described in the title they were given.  For example, if you were given a name, it described the foremost aspect of your character, or that of your family.  So, when we see various names of God in scripture, in the Hebrew language they are just proclaiming another aspect of God's character.  As the two terms are used, they have significant meaning:

GOD:  Jehovah - the unchangeable one.  As this term is utilized, it refers to the steadfastness of God's character - he is the unchangeable one who fulfills promises, becoming what it is we need, and every action emanating from his holiness.  

God:  Elohim - the creative one.  As this term is used, it refers to the attribute of possessing all things - having created all things.  In other words, he is the one with the right to govern all things - sovereign in all power.  As such, he is the one holding all things together, bringing life to all things, and maintaining covenant relationship with his creation. 

So, our psalmist invites us into God's presence, first by coming to a place of alertness and attentiveness, then enjoying our entrance into the very presence of the one who invites us into covenant with him and becomes the means by which we actually are able to enter into this covenant relationship.  He is saying we enter by the blood of the Lamb - Christ's shed blood - and we are maintained there by the same blood.  

One of the things we learn in the presence of God is the faithfulness of his love.  Of late, I have read many posts, listened to many sermons, and even caught several conversations by DJs on Christian radio proclaiming much about the unconditional love of God.  I don't think this is by accident.  As a matter of fact, my pastor said it so well this past weekend.  Pastor Chad said, "Our issue is not how much we love God, but how much we realize just how much he loves us."  Let that one sink in a little.  He was saying we spend a whole lot of time working to get God to love us - when all the while God is saying "I already love you beyond measure!"  

I think our psalmist really understood the love of God - it being beyond measure in his life.  No wonder he was comfortable enough to celebrate God's goodness with laughter!  I think God is honored when we can laugh and celebrate his goodness, faithfulness, and compassion in our lives.  There is nothing dishonoring about realizing God's presence and just letting out a little giggle!  I do it all the time - his presence bringing me peace, settling my emotional turmoil and focusing me on what really matters.  Try it some time!  You might just enjoy celebrating the one who gives you both the means of access and the full access into his very presence!  Just sayin!