This photo popped up on Instagram last week and it has consumed me ever since. Shocker, huh? Jesus laughs. Who knew? If you think this is irreverent than you need to click off here right now because your holy toes are about to get stepped on.
We always see the stoic Jesus or the wounded Jesus. I don’t think He wants to be seen that way and I am pretty certain he does not want His children to be seen that way. Serious and wounded is how we are taught to see Him in pictures. I like to think this is the true picture of who Jesus is. Love is all over this face. I can’t help but smile while looking at it.
None of us know what He really looks like and we all see Him differently. The Bible tells us to count it all joy through trials of many kinds. I am no Bible scholar. I have a degree in communications and a minor in home economics. I took an old testament course in college and made a C. But, I have been washed in the blood, raised in the Bible belt as a Southern Baptist who earned all her GA badges, walked down the steps of the sanctuary by spotlight in a prom dress to receive her Acteen awards. I worked as a counselor at church camp and I lead the women’s ministry at my church. I have seen lots of pictures of what Lifeway thinks Jesus looks like. I have also faced trials of many kinds in my 39 years on this earth and through those I have determined He looks friendly and approachable.
My parents divorced when I was in college and it came with lots of hurts. I have lost a job when I really needed one. My mother almost died from pitiful healthcare providers whom we put our trust in. I have been in the ring and fought for my child’s best on many occasions when the cheerleaders were few. I have relocated to places where I had no friends or family. I have watched my sister’s family be wounded by the church and overcome it and in turn we were all wounded and had to overcome it. So many trials, too many to name. But you know what, I still laugh and sometimes I even laugh about things I just mentioned. I believe Jesus was full of joy and people followed him because of it. I also believe that is what He has called us to be. Full of joy even through tears, heartache and pain. That’s how we are refined and used for His glory.
I know we find ourselves in these seasons that have us asking “how?”. He has shown us how. We have to soak up His character and allow it to consume us. Fruits of the spirit are our blueprint. Your trials may be bigger than anything I can dream of. I totally get that. I have a friend who lost a child to cancer a few months ago. I have a friend out of work for longer than he ever expected. I have a friend having to give her foster son back to his family after many months of investing in and loving this child as her own. I get it. I do. Bitterness rears its ugly head at times like these. This is when joy has to win though.
As a Christian, times like these are when we are refined and our testimony is on stage for all to witness. Job faced every God forsaken misery on earth but he never stopped pursuing joy and trying to praise God in the very worst of times. Joseph was tossed away into slavery by his brothers because they were jealous of him. He never stopped trusting God and being hopeful. God used those miserable years to save his family in the end. We never know what the reason is, but we can trust a God who does. I just hope I never have to endure that kind of hardship in order to be complete and lacking nothing in God’s purpose for my life.
This picture of Jesus took my breath away. After a long winter of sickness and trying to stay ahead as the new year started it was easy to see my joy beginning to fade. Panic set in for a few days and then this picture hit me. This image came at just the right time. A beautiful reminder that these things are minor in the grand scheme of things and there is nothing my beautiful and capable savior cannot handle. He goes before me. He knows what is around the corner. Trials are His way of making us more useful for his glory.
Someone is watching you today. Watching how you deal with not getting the promotion, watching how you use your free time on the computer at work, watching how you treat the waitress at lunch, watching you respond to the bad news on the other end of the line, watching how you treat your difficult child. Watching how you respond to your elderly parent who needs you more than you have time to give. They are listening to your words spoken in the break room, on the phone with your spouse, and reading the words you post online. The world is watching how we respond and they want to see us do it differently. I want the world to see me smile, laugh and find the best in the worst.
I think some see me as goofy at times. I have been told that professionally. It sorta stings. But you know what, I know who I am in Christ and he has made me to be the smile people need to see and the laughter they need to hear. I am not the best role model by any means but I am striving and trying to be all the He needs me to be. The world is watching and I want them to see Jesus in me and it to look just like this. Friendly and approachable is who I want you to see.