We live very close to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
In Gatlinburg, Tennessee, a town at the entrance to the Park, there are many things for tourists to do, and among them is having your picture taken while you are dressed up in old-time garb. The resulting picture in sepia tones appears to be very old, perhaps of people who bear a striking resemblance of you but who lived generations ago.
One of the requirements when the picture is taken is that you have to look serious. I am told that holding a smile for a period of time is more difficult than holding a frown. Before the days of fast shutter speeds or digital photography, it took time for the image to be exposed, for example, for a tin-type. In short, you had to be still. If you smiled, your mouth would be a blur – if you frowned, or at least were serious, your mouth would be in focus.
Here is one picture where the children had an incredible level of seriousness, while Mom, who probably glanced at them just before the camera snapped, seemed to be ready to laugh.
Laughter – Joy – Love. What blessings from the Lord!
When I think of laughter in Scripture, the first thought is of Sarah laughing when the angel of the Lord told her husband that she would have a child in her old age. See Genesis 18.
Actually, the word for “laughter” is not often used in the Scripture, but the Bible is replete with times that people reveled in the joy that the Lord their God gave to them. I can’t help but think that, in the midst of the glorious joy that they had, the people in Scripture laughed – not in derision, but in sheer joy!
What can be more infectious than a child’s joy!
The Psalmist wrote numerous psalms about joy, of which this is an example:
Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!
Psalm 32:11 [ESV]
Paul wrote in Romans:
For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
Romans 14:17 [ESV]
Luke characterized the disciples as follows:
And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 13:52 [ESV]
What can be more infectious than the joy of a small child? The Joy that the believer has in his/her Lord and Savior. It is a glorious gift from the Holy Spirit.
The number of Scripture passages that deal with love are myriad – the love of God, the love of Jesus Christ, the love we should have for each other – love is written throughout the pages of Scripture. For example:
The Psalmist says:
But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
Psalm 13:5-6 [ESV]
When I think of God’s love, the first thing that comes to mind is, of course, the cross. But the image that speaks to me about Jesus’ love for His sheep is this one that is hanging in our study at home. The lamb is resting so comfortably on His shoulder and it is being held so tenderly by the nail scarred hands of the Lord.
Paul, in Romans 5, provides this picture in words when he says:
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die– but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8 [ESV]
Sometimes we want to laugh but the occasion does not warrant it – but even then, our eyes can shine with the joy that we are experiencing. God did not create us without feelings – He clearly wants us to experience laughter, joy and love.
While the world experiences a type of joy and love, the fruit of the Spirit encompasses joy and love on an entirely different level. It is joy that is not based on circumstances but on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Spirit that indwells the believer. We will consider the fruit of the Spirit next week when the new series begins on The Ruminant Scribe blog site.
Ask the Lord to give you glimpses of His joy and His love through His Spirit. You will be glad you did.
Father, thank You for granting to us the incredible blessing of emotions and feelings so that we can experience the summit of love and waves of joy. And, thank You for being with us when we experience difficulties and trials, too. Thank You, Sovereign Lord, for providing us with the Holy Spirit Who gives to us your joy and love now and for all eternity. We praise your holy name.