Can you remember when life was joyful? Even funny? When did everything get so serious?
When did a well-exercised sense of humor get sacrificed on the altar of adulthood? Who says becoming a “responsible person” means a long face and an all-serious attitude toward life?
A very precocious ten-year old asked, “How old are you, Grandma?”
“Well, honey, when you’re my age, you don’t share your age with anybody.”
While Grandma fixed supper, the girl came across the contents of her grandmother’s purse and dumped them on the bed.
Finding Grandma’s driver’s license, the child announced, “Grandma, you’re seventy-six.”
“Why, yes, I am. How did you know that?”
“I found the date of your birthday here on your driver’s license and subtracted that year from this year. You’re seventy-six.” Looking down at the license, she added, “You also made an F in sex.”
Even Christians can make Fs in the abundant life Jesus came to give us. Died, age thirty. Buried, age sixty. An appropriate epitaph for too many.
A lot of adults I know are as serious as a heart attack. Our vocation as pastors is among the most serious of all professions. As a minister of the gospel and senior pastor of a church, a week doesn’t pass without my dealing with life in the raw. Needs are enormous, endless, and heartrending. It’s easy to become grim.
I know of no greater need in our ranks today than the need for joy. Unexplainable, contagious joy. What is the sum and substance of all this? The secret of living is the same as the secret of joy: both revolve around the centrality of Jesus Christ. The pursuit of happiness is the cultivation of a Christ-centered, Christ-controlled life.
To you, my fellow pastor, I say, “Let go!” Let go of your habit of always looking at the negative. Let go of your need to fix everybody else’s unhappiness. Let go of your drive to compete or compare. Let go of needless inhibitions that keep you from celebrating life. Quit being so protective, so predictable, so in control . . . so proper.
To remain perpetually super-serious and fill one’s mind with only the harsh and painful realities of life keeps the radius of our perspective too tight and the tunnel of our hope too long. Every day I try to find at least one thing to laugh about, something to prompt a chuckle.
When Christ becomes our central focus—our reason for existence—contentment replaces anxiety, fears, and insecurities. Most people think that happiness is something that happens to them rather than something they diligently pursue. Joy comes to those who determine to pursue it in spite of everyday circumstances.
These minds of ours are like bank vaults awaiting our deposits. If we regularly deposit positive, encouraging, and uplifting thoughts, we will withdraw the same. And the interest paid will be joy—abundant life. So, please . . . let go!