It is funny to read an old-fashioned joke book. I wonder what Shakespeare’s sounded like. Perhaps a knock-knock joke (see the Porter in Macbeth). Laughter is a common theme through time, some jokes better than others. George Herbert commented on wit in his Church Porch:
Wit’s an unruly engine, wildly striking
Sometimes a friend, sometimes the engineer.
Hast thou the knack? pamper it not with liking:
But if thou want it, buy it not too deere.
Many affecting wit beyond their power,
Have got to be a deare fool for an houre.
And there is a proverb that says the same.”A merry heart does good, like medicine,/ But a broken spirit dries the bones” Proverbs 17:22. Herbert packed a lot of wisdom into this series of stanzas, challenging a young person to learn from his life. Here are a few more that caught my eye.
Scorn no mans love, though of a mean degree;
(Love is a present for a mightie king)
Much lesse make any one thine enemie.
As gunnes destroy, so may a little sling.
The cunning workman never doth refuse
The meanest tool, that he may chance to use.
It is odd, but this reminds me of the queen receiving a chicken in Princess Diaries. She was grateful, though the bird was not the easiest house guest. It surprises me that God wants my little things as well as “important” things I can do for Him. But Mark 12 tells the story of the widow with two mites, where Jesus saw the wealth of that gift because of the heart behind the coins. And Paul points out in Romans 4 that grace is the only foot we have to stand on when it comes to our relationship with God.
What about my relationships? Do I look down on other people? Some friendships are harder to return than others. Do I try to take the high seat, like the man in Luke 14 who had to make way for someone else? If you are content without the fame and popularity, there are so many places to go! I am also confronted by James who tells us to watch out for favoritism (James 2), especially in church. God, please help me catch when I begin to categorize people – You give us all worth!
Summe up at night, what thou hast done by day;
And in the morning, what thou hast to do.
Dresse and undresse thy soul: mark the decay
And growth of it: if with thy watch, that too
Be down, then winde up both; since we shall be
Most surely judg’d, make thy accounts agree.
So here I am at the end of the day, God. And I have a lot to learn. I accomplished quite a few things, but it felt like swatting flies – there are always a million more details to chase. Thank You for poetry and Scripture to season my thoughts and challenge my mindset. Please help me to not trust my own strength for the day, but see Your hand in each hour. Amen.