When Life Knocks You Down

snowball-in-hand2.jpg“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.”

― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief ―
Last week, the snow was light on the ground, drifting only in sparse piles on top of the vehicles and the edge of the driveway. I looked out the kitchen window, and this is what I saw.
Around the driveway drifts, two young friends of mine gathered, rolling snow into lopsided balls in an attempt to build a snowman. Somewhere along the way the lure of the snow was just too much for one of them and snowballs began to fly.

Before you knew it, the round snowman torso was being plundered for ammunition. One of my little friends, laughing in the thrill of the moment, suddenly caught a huge wad of snow in the head. He went flying backward into the snow, his red coat a streak of color against the blank palette of yard.

It was one of those magical moments.

Laying on his back, he grinned, laughing at being bowled over. Soon he was up again, and before long, not a trace of the original snowman remained.

This is the joy I seek.

To go down laughing when this world bowls me right over.

The boys playing in my snowy yard plowed through the cold like it was a joy to do it. They lay down in the stuff like it was comfortable. They took hits like troopers. It was all a blast–a game without risk or reason to fear.

Life seems a little more heartless. Its snowballs are packed a lot harder, carry a little more ice inside them. Adventures we once craved, we now see in their true light: cold, wet, hard things that we really don’t want to go out in.

No wonder so many of us stay inside ourselves, where it is warm and comfortable.

But there was something marvelous about my little friends trouncing through the snow. Their exhilaration in the beautiful discomfort. Their embracing of being swept off their feet.

So I think I know a secret, how life can be like a snow day. You can get cranky because the snow went down your neck and into your boots, and your gloves are soaked clean through, and your nose is dripping off. Or, when the big snowballs of life knock you off your feet, you can lay there a while and laugh at the sky above you.

Maybe that’s the best place to see the sky–when you are flat on your back. Sometimes it takes being knocked down to get you to look up. 

Maybe that’s when you can stop trying to prove how well you can stand up to the barrage, and you can just flop over and laugh into the cold sky.

“While other worldviews lead us to sit in the midst of life’s joys, foreseeing the coming sorrows, Christianity empowers its people to sit in the midst of this world’s sorrows, tasting the coming joy.”

 – Timothy Keller, Walking with God through Pain and Suffering, p.31 –

I think that hope teaches us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Life can be very, very hard. It is true.

But when we are knocked down, we can cry over our smallness and weakness…or we can laugh at it. We can marvel at a God who loves the little person bowled over by the snowball. And we can trust that the God of the snow knows all about snowballs…and He knows just how much we needed to take a long look at the sky and ponder what kind of Creator would gift us with such blue beauty.

“This is why we do not lose courage. Though our outer self is heading for decay, our inner self is being renewed daily.”

 – 2 Corinthians 4:16, CJB –

The God of snow days and of little boys and long, happy falls into snow banks is also my God. He has promised to make all this world into something fresh and new one of these days.

Until then, He gives grace for the days when we are knocked right off our feet. His redeemed daughters “smile when they think about the future” (paraphrase of Proverbs 31:25, The Voice.)

It is easy to be discouraged when life knocks us down.

But take a deep breath and look up at the blue, blue sky and laugh. Your Father is making it all come out perfect in the end.

That’s why snow days are worth celebrating.

As cold as everything looks in winter, the sun has not forsaken us. He has only drawn away for a little, for good reasons, one of which is that we may learn that we cannot do without him.

– George MacDonald –

Days to Come

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Laughter is a form of release, a kind of surrender to the moment. It is, when sincere, truly opening yourself to the joy of right now, almost a form of unconscious thanksgiving.

I want to laugh.

Tomorrow is a crazy, uncontrolled thing. Scary at times, uncertain, wild as wind.

I want to laugh.

But I can’t quite decide what kind of laugh I want. Some laughs are overdone, annoying. Some aren’t even worth the breath used, as dry and mirthless as a frown.

I want a laugh that is alive, brimming over with joy and faith in the God who holds not only my history and moments, but the history yet to be written, and the moments yet to be born.

I want to laugh, because I believe that in and beyond all the weary frustrations and holy moments there is a wild, sacred joy that lays just beyond my stretching fingers. I brush the fringes, the outskirts of the Uncontainable. The shivers run up my fingers–hot, cold, jolting–like an electric current, like a sea of blue ice.

A laugh can be a prayer, a fountain bubbling up.

A laugh can be forgiveness, soothing over a fault with love, the healing of a joyful spirit. Laughing at ourselves, knowing when to be serious and knowing when it is good to just see the humor in our constant relational contortions.

A laugh can be faith, a kind of looking toward the dawn that is sure to come…but is not quite yet seen.

Strong, brave, joyous is the woman who can lift up her face to the road ahead and truly laugh.

“She laughs at the days to come…”

– Proverbs 31:25 –

Is there a “Christian” laugh?

I think so.

The laugh of faith.

The Christian laughs at this life where condemnation is the only expected reward and yet we get…grace.

Grace! For us, the rebels who ran. Grace, because God came to us.

Laughter of boundless joy, of faith in a God of impossibilities, was a familiar thing to Abraham:

“The laughter of Abraham and Sarah at the angel’s extraordinary announcement does not eliminate the darkness, because through the long, childless years of the past, darkness has already taken its toll, and in the long years that lie ahead there will be darkness for them still as, for instance, when Abraham is asked to take the child of the promise and offer him to God as a burnt offering. They both still have to face the darkness both of death and of life in a world where God is seen at best only from afar, through a glass darkly; but with their laughter something new breaks into their darkness, something so unexpected and preposterous and glad they can only laugh at it in astonishment….It all happened not of necessity not inevitably, but gratuitously, freely, hilariously. And what was astonishing, gratuitous, hilarious was, of course, the grace of God.”

– Frederick Buechner, Telling the Truth, pages 56, 57, emphasis mine –

This grace of God is what secures our tomorrow. This grace of God is why we can laugh the laugh of faith.

Abraham’s laugh was smack in the middle of a long journey to an unknown land. The apostle Paul sang in a cell. Jesus rejoiced between planning ministry trips, condemning the hardness of Israel’s heart, and debating with lawyers (Luke 10:21-22).

Laughter is not about reaching the end of the journey, getting out of the prison, escaping from the crowds.

Laughter is about faith in a God of grace, who has a glorious plan–not only for this day, but also for the days to come.

Lift up your faces to the dawn and laugh–He holds the Future!


 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

– Philippians 4:4-7, NKJV –


Thanks again to Atalie Bale Photography for such a lovely photo for today’s topic!