I sat back in my seat and waited for takeoff. My back ached and my limbs were stiff from the five-hour drive to the airport and the two-hour first leg of my flight home. I wasn’t looking forward to another five hours in cramped economy-class seating.
I would love it if the world were filled with joyous and godly laughter: jolly, infectious, festive, holy laughter, the kind that spreads joy to the world! “Happy arethe people whose God is the Lord!”1 I love to hear My people filled with joy, and that joy being manifested in laughter. It reaches up to Me like praise does. It is very like praise and is often mingled with praise. It is joy to the world, and a joy for Me to hear.
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. … If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”1
This verse is proving so true in my life. When I make the effort to put Jesus in first place in my life, opportunities drop in my lap and doors open to share my faith with others—oftentimes, as I’m going about my everyday routine, such as while traveling by public transportation.
I went to the retail store, Costco, today to return a vacuum cleaner I had purchased that turned out to be defective. After making our return, we were in need of a new vacuum cleaner and made our way to the aisle that offered several makes and models. It just so happened that a sales rep for one of the brands was on the floor demonstrating her wares.
I was fifteen and looked forward to Fridays, as it meant a trip to the beach. Every week during the summer, our youth group put on an impromptu performance of songs and skits on the boardwalk to share the message of God’s love with those passing by.
I stirred at the now-familiar sound of a baby crying plaintively. Behind the partitioning curtain, I could hear his mother’s despondent, weary voice trying to soothe him. I was fifteen, and I was in the children’s ward of the hospital after having undergone a tonsillectomy the day before. Contrary to expectations, there had been some complications, and now the pain in my throat and ears made it impossible for me to sleep deeply. I pressed the ice pack more tightly to my throat and face while I watched this exhausted, careworn mother pacing the narrow aisle as she rocked her tiny, weeping son.
A sad part of my day is when I listen to the news. Almost everything is about people facing terrible situations. Both Christians and non-Christians face very painful suffering in one form or another in many parts of the world.
Much of the news is about some tragic circumstance somewhere. It ranges from financial crises to terrorism and wars and conflicts to drug-related violence to homelessness to persecution of Christians to devastation due to climate change to leftover land mines to lack of water in various places to horrible repressive governments.
This morning I dragged myself out of bed. The sun isn’t even fully up, so why should I be?
As I mulled over that pithy logic, I dressed, grabbed my bag, and trudged out the front door.
Now I hope some of you will empathize with my feelings when you hear my purpose. I was on my way to the gym.