I lost the magic of life at a very young age. Bereft by the loss of her chaplain husband from friendly fire during WWII, my mother spiraled the two of us through cycles of depression and grief and pain of which I had little understanding at the age of 3. I only knew that mommy was crying all the time. My reputation as a teenager in my home church was that of a “grump.” Like mother, like daughter.
I have only recently begun to understand how that acidic grief has affected my entire journey. Joy and contentment, spontaneity and light-heartedness are new companions. Perhaps that is why an article in the April, 2014 issue of Christianity Today, entitled God the Merrymaker grabbed my attention and brought me to tears. In the article, N.D. Wilson makes the case for Christians being “the speakers of light”and the “proclaimers of joy” He reminds us that God “wove glory and joy into every layer this world” and that “as bearers of God’s image” we are to do the same. Instead we live as if God were “an infinite list of negatives.” It’s no wonder that the words of this article grabbed me (both as a writer and as a 70+ year-old person valiantly battling to restore some of her “inner child.”) Wilson says:
“Our Father . . . wove in secrets that would tease us into centuries of risk-taking before we could unlock them – flight, glass, electricity, chocolate. . . . Our God made things simple and funny – skin bags full of milk swinging beneath cows. And also hard: Skim the cream, add sugar from cane grass and shards of vanilla bean from faraway lands, surround with water cold enough to have expanded its molecules and become solid. Now stir. Keep stirring. Now taste. And Worship.
Us: No more for you Johnny. God: Try the hot fudge.
God hung easily picked fruit on trees and he hid the secrets of fine wine at the end of a scavenger hunt. He made horses with strong flat backs, lending themselves to an obvious use, and he hid jet wings behind the mysteries of steel and fossil fuels.
Without any creative help at all, our God made up peanuts and bulgy tubers. Squeeze out the peanut oil and boil it. Slice the tubers and throw them in . Now add salt from the sea.
Us: Those will kill you. God: Take and eat
We should strive for holiness, but holiness is a flood, not an absence. Are you the kind of parent who can create joys for your children that they never imagined wanting? Does your sun shine, warming the face of others, Does your rain green the world around you? Do you end your days with anything resembling a sunset? Do you begin with a dawn? . . . . Speak your joy. Mean it. Sing it. Do it. Push it down into your bones. Let it overflow your banks and flood the lives of others. At his right hand, there are pleasures forevermore. When we are truly like him the same will be said of us!”
We need to be serious thinkers, intentional practitioners of spiritual disciplines, concerned citizens of the world, fighting its evils, and passionate worshipers. But we also need to welcome the flood of holiness, summon the work of creativity, splash in the puddles of joy, and live every day in wonder. Now, go have a hot fudge sundae and a handful of potato chips!