I recently spent a week on a business trip with some colleagues. The purpose of this trip was a mandated leadership training for all new managers. Like all trainings I’ve been to, I took away the items that were most impactful to me personally, aaaaand I have already forgotten the rest. What I really remember about the trip though is laughter, a lot of laughter. I work with some incredible people, and two brothers in particular I have forged a solid friendship with. Soooooo, I figured our friendship would make the trip somewhat bearable. I had no idea how much so. Oh how we laughed every evening as we gathered for dinner and networking and during the day as we endured the sitting and getting. I have never lived for 15 minute breaks every hour on the hour more than I did that week. I digress…
Honestly, I was dreading the training. I was not looking forward to being away from home for a week and I am in the middle of one of the busiest work times of the year. To say the timing was inconvenient is an understatement. How little did I know this was exactly what I needed, not the training, but the trip! When I came back, I was so refreshed! I was trying to figure out why. It wasn’t quite making sense. Then this week it hit me, it was the laughter. We laughed so much and so often, the joy has lingered on in my heart. The ribbing we gave one another daily, sometimes hourly, and the sharing of stories filled us with such joy each day. We were suffering together through the training, but we endured and survived it because we laughed.
One bi-product has been my relationship with these brothers has deepened even more. Another has been my motivation and energy level at work has increased. I have looked forward to work more each morning since I returned and am reinvigorated to do my job. All because of laughter. I have even found myself laughing more at work, chuckling at even the smallest of things. This was kind of groundbreaking. Then my thoughts shifted. What if I approached not only my daily life with this lifestyle of laughter and joy, but also my relationship with Jesus with this same heart of laughter? What would that look like? (It’s okay, my mind was blown too when this thought first entered my brain. I am just glad it stayed long enough for me to write about it.)
I often wonder what it was like for the disciples to laugh with Jesus, to hear and watch Jesus laugh. I mean come on, these were men and this is what men do when they are together. These men were in Jesus’ inner circle. Anytime you put a bunch of guys together, sitting over a camp fire, talking after another amazing day with Jesus, you know they ribbed one another and laughed together, maybe even at one another (some of you are having a hard time with the idea these holy men would be having fun, maybe even at the expense of one another, but isn’t it comforting to think about how they were men, just like us?)
To laugh with Jesus, now that is an interesting concept.
Did Jesus really laugh, or was he always so serious, going around blessing people and shyly smiling, not really allowing his full humanity to come through? Is your concept of Jesus more of a highly religious man? A man distinctly more pious than the average Jewish man in first century Judea? Is it hard for you to imagine Jesus laughing? I submit to you Jesus was fully human and fully man in the most human way we know a human to be, he absolutely laughed! I imagine he had the most contagious laugh, the kind that when you hear it, it makes you laugh more, and the more he laughed the more you laugh. I have no doubt these men laughed with Jesus, the kind of laugh where you are about to hyperventilate and you end up in tears because your abs feel like you just went through two rounds of a P-90X ab workout kind of laughing (trust me, 1 round is enough to make a grown man cry). To be with Jesus is joy itself, and the purest form of joy is most often coupled with laughter. I laughed like that many times that week and it was good for my soul.
Can you imagine the laughter Jesus and his disciples shared together when Jesus appeared to them on Resurrection Sunday? Nervously laughing in utter disbelief as he stood before them and reassured them he had returned as he said he would. Jesus laughing with them, reciprocating the joy in his heart to be with them. Laughing as they listened to the sweet sound of his soothing voice once again. I can hear their laughter now, so pure and so joyful.
Have you ever thought about what it was like to laugh with Jesus? Have you ever tried? Maybe this is the first time you considered Jesus having a sense of humor? Think of his miracles. How about his first miracle, turning the water to wine at Cana. It was a wedding feast, there was laughter everywhere. Have you ever wondered why Jesus chose this setting for his first miracle?
What about his last miracle before the ultimate miracle of the Resurrection? Do you not think Martha and Mary laughed in disbelief and joy when Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the tomb? Do you not think that evening when they ate together there was laughter and joy? Can you imagine the laughter and joy at dinner that night while everyone was sitting in utter disbelief, silently and intensely watching a man, who had been dead for 4 days, taking his first bite of food and then Lazarus asking everyone, “What are you all starring at? Haven’t you ever seen a resurrected man eat a meal before?” followed by a roar of laughter. I can hear them now, “Peter, did you see the look on Thomas’ face when Lazarus walked out of the tomb?” and everyone breaks out in laughter again. What an evening that must have been!
There had to be so much laughter in both amazement and belief every single day with Jesus. What about Jesus’ seemingly daily habit of putting the Pharisees in their place? I can just hear John and Peter chuckling and saying, “Man, he just turned the tables on them. Did you see the look on their faces when Jesus healed that guy’s hand in the temple, on the Sabbath? Their jaws were on the ground.” What about the feeding of the 5,000? So. Much. Laughter. How could there not be when you are in the presence of the Creator of the universe, whose very idea laughter is?! What a comforting thought?!
So how about it? Just give it a try! Find a quiet place and spend some intentional time in listening prayer. Ask Jesus to help you remember something funny, a memory or a story, and then laugh with your Friend. Think about the smile on Jesus’ face when he sees you laugh. His heart is filled with joy when you, his son or daughter, laugh and find joy with him. Go ahead! Laugh it up with Jesus! You just might find out more about him than you ever have before! It just might be the medicine your heart needs.