A New Year’s Resolution Worth Keeping

1 01 2018

Another Christmas has come and gone, and in the flash of moment the next thing we Rock _nknow it’s now 2018! It seems like only yesterday a young couple were celebrating their 1st holidays together in a 10’x50’ trailer giving each other small but memorable gifts we could afford on our small budget. Nowadays we cram a family of 14 into my basement studio for a festive occasion packed with gifts galore. With Cathy and I raised as only children, we feel special with this gathering and thank God for how richly He’s blessed us. Probably like many our age, we’re not concerned with what we might receive as presents; we receive more joy watching the faces of the others, especially the children, as they unwrap their latest treasure.  Late Christmas evening the family gave me a gift they probably didn’t realize, and that I’ve been looking back at everyday since with a fond memory and a smile. What was that gift? Well hang on and I’ll tell you.

As the evening grew late and all the festivities were completed some of my kids and a grandson gathered at the dining room table to play games. Cathy and our two youngest grandchildren had turned in, three more stayed down stairs watching a Christmas movie and I went to my easy chair to put my feet up and relax. It wasn’t long after that the final and best gift was given to me. Listening to the kids in the other room I began to hear chuckles, then more with others joining in. Soon it seemed like no one could take a turn playing without everyone else bursting into hilarity. After a while the girls just had to come up from the basement and join in on whatever was going on. Now there was a roar of happiness coming from the room. And as for me I continued to sit in my chair and listen, listen to the wonderful gift they were inadvertently giving. So, have you figured out what it was? Well, simply, laughter.

As a young child I remember being happy and laughing often, but when Mom and I went to live with my great aunt and uncle he would not allow that type of foolishness. If something brought me to the point of laughing more than he felt appropriate there would be a price to pay, so I had to focus on how to stifle that emotion. Later when I went to school, there was group that targeted me to make fun of. Whenever they laughed, it was not with me but at me with ridicule and hateful words, and for a time I grew to have a distain for the sound of laughter. For a period of time I lived quite sober minded and would only allow happiness in situations I felt in control of. Thankfully that period of my life didn’t last as I learned it was okay to laugh and even vital to my health, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. The latter was by far the hardest for me to grasp; for some reason I just didn’t see where being a Christian and enjoying life and laughter went together. That is until I took a look at what God’s Word said on the subject.

Job 8:21 “He will yet fill your mouth with laughter and your lips with shouts of joy.”

Proverbs 17:22 “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

Nehemiah 8:10 Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I have learned that bad things happen to all of us, it’s part of life here on Earth. But take two thoughts into consideration. The first, circumstances don’t have to rob you of happiness. I could give you a list longer than my arm of folks who have faced situations far worse than I ever have, but still find room for joy. The second is God knows of your state, cares for you and will never leave you. Take joy in Him for He takes joy in you.  Psalm 149:4 “For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.”

One of my favorite authors Max Lucado writes, “I Choose Joy. I will invite my God to be the God of my circumstance. I will refuse the temptation to be cynical. I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God. I will refuse to see any problem as anything less than an opportunity to see God.” He goes on to say it’s okay to have joy and laughter. “Be a child again. Flirt. Giggle. Dip your cookies in your milk. Take a nap. Say you’re sorry if you hurt someone. Chase a butterfly. Be a child again.” Try that on and see how your day goes.

So, here’s my New Year’s resolution challenge for 2018. Laugh, smile more, enjoy life, be even a little spontaneous. I realize it’s almost impossible to be that way every day; the world and life just doesn’t work that way. But if you can’t today, aim for tomorrow, or the next day. Let nothing rob your life from the joy of laughter, especially you own. I know you truly don’t want a joyless life. Neither do the friends and family that care for you, nor this long-winded “Traveler of the Rock Road.” And especially, God. He is the giver of joy, happiness. “Laughter!”

As for me, I continue to hear the laughter of my children and I think about the awesome present they gave this old man. That’s one gift I could enjoy getting every year.

A Happy and Blessed 2018, Dear Friends and Family!

See ya next time.


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