All this ‘trouble’ just to locate some mousetraps!

Let My Laughter Resound!


ALL THIS ‘TROUBLE’ JUST TO LOCATE SOME MOUSETRAPS!

There are some ‘basic correlations’ that we humans take ‘for granted’. If there is a ‘head’ then there (logically) is a ‘hat’. If there are hands, then there are ‘gloves’. If there is a ‘plate’, then there is food. If there is a ‘running uniform’, then there is a track running trail. If there is a ‘violin’, then there must be a violinist. If there is a Toyota car, then there must be a driver.

These most basic correlations are obvious to any thinking person! Many objects or persons are involved in the dynamics of ‘correlations’. One ‘thing’ calls for the involvement of another thing, and the two things together are in a complementary relationship.

What is the basic complement to a ‘pesky scampering mouse’? Of course, a mouse trap! In our house (a few years ago), we had one side of the equation – we had the presence of ‘pesky mice’ – but we did not have the presence of the other side of the equation. We did not have, on hand, any mouse trap!

One night, with the recognition that we did not have one side of the equation (namely, mouse traps), my dear wife sent me on a ‘mission’. I was to go to some store to find and to purchase some mouse traps! An important mission, for, you see, my (courageous) wife is ‘deathly afraid’ of those elusive mice. Years before this time (when she and I were quite young), my wife and a lady friend of hers, were terrified with the presence of a little mouse which was running around in our kitchen.

My wife called a neighbor man, and he and his wife came to our house to do ‘battle with the little mouse’! My wife and the wife of this neighbor man (a long-time friend) – these women were ‘frightened in an unexplainably manner’ (beyond reason) – and the wife of the neighbor ended up on top of my dining room table! The neighbor man chased the mouse with a broom, and the human finally ‘conquered’ God’s miniature creature!

What is there about mice that send panic to the heart of so many people? To look at the motions of fear, you would think that these panic-stricken persons were being attacked by angry lions, rather than by harmless mice!

There is a hardware store, located about one mile from my home – a good place to fulfill my ‘personal and important mission’ – to purchase some mouse traps!

It was about 7:00p.m., later than a store would normally be open, but I noticed that there were some bright lights, emitting a warm glow within this inviting store. I was rather delighted that the store was still open. Surely, it would be an easy task for me to quickly purchase a few ‘mouse killers’ (mouse traps).

I would go into the store – a store that I enjoyed often to go into – and I would quickly exit, and I would be on my way home to present these ‘mouse contraptions’ to my wife! I could hear my wife say to me, as I entered the ‘front door’ of my house, that she was so grateful to me for going out into the night air, to show my concern for her (to save her from those pesky little creatures)!

As I opened the front door of this familiar hardware store, I was glad that it had not yet closed, that business hours were later than I realized! I was not aware of the opening and the closing time for this fine store, but, since I entered the front door of the hardware store at about 7 p.m., I assumed that the store closing time must be later in the evening, maybe 8 p.m. or even 9 p.m.!

When I entered the front door, and I walked over to the front counter (close to the front door), something struck me as rather ‘odd’ (even strange). Some of the bright lights in the store were turned on, but other lights in the store were not turned on. The front lights (where I was standing) were turned on. But, strangely, the entire center of the store was dark (with no lights turned on). Then, I noticed that the lights in the back of the store (far from where I was standing) were turned on. In other words, the front and the back of the store was brightly lite, but the entire center of the store was very dark, with no lights shining!

I thought to myself, since there was no one to wait on me at the ‘checkout counter’, in the front of the store, that possibly there were one or two store employees working in the back of the store. I thought it was strange that no one (from the back of the store) would come to the front of the store to ‘wait on me’, to help me find some mouse traps!

These ‘various perplexing questions’ (conjectures of my mind) lasted for only a few seconds (maybe one minute). Then ‘shock of all shocks’, an ’emotional-shattering’, ‘ear-ringing’ alarm sounded off in the store! I immediately realized that I was alone in this store! This store was closed for business! I had no employees in the store to ‘wait on me’. I was all by my lonesome in this mainly darkened store. The shrill sound of the alarm, combined with the eerie feelings that crept over me, at that time, made me feel that I was in the middle of an ‘angry nightmare’!

The sound of the alarm made me feel like I was a robber, a thief who needed to run and to hide – but where could I run to, and how could I hide? I couldn’t get out of the store! I was, indeed, trapped in a store! Would the police consider me to be an abandoned robber? And this entire hair-raising event because I was trying to be ‘good’ to my wife, simply trying to find her some mouse traps! The door I came into the store, that same door (which I ‘tried’ to open) would not allow me to exit the store! I was trapped!

How did I ever get myself into such a predicament? I went time after time to the front door (the door I entered), and the door would not swing outward to release me from my panic and my ‘bondage’! I felt so lonely, so defenseless, so detected, so guilty, so confused, so exposed! I was ‘at the mercy’ of the police! Would they accept my alibi?

I thought that I probably was pinpointed for an arrest! Surely the police would understand that I found the front door of the hardware store open, and that I assumed that the store was open for business!

After all, some of the lights (particularly the front end store lights) were shining brightly, and those lights naturally ‘invited’ me into the store.

After I got into the store, I was ‘trapped’, for the door through which I entered the store, swings in only one direction. It is an entrance door, but not an exit door! I thought that if they arrested me for being in this privately-owned store, I would present to them these logical arguments! Surely, with these facts in mind, any fair-minded police officer would ‘buy my story’!

It was a frightening thought to me to quickly conclude that I came into this store, thinking that the store was open for business!

As just noted, during my moments in which I felt considerable ‘panic’, I repeatedly went to the same door through which I had entered a few minutes before this time. When I pushed on the door, hoping to quickly exit the store, I found that the door did not permit me to exit. It was a door to be used for entrance into the store – entrance only!

I was trapped inside this store! The shrill-sounding alarm continued to sound off! That shrill sound, blasting my ear drums, sent ‘chills down my spine’. I tried to use that same door again and again, but to no avail! Yes, there was no way for me to exit this hardware store – the very store to which I had often given my business!

Because the store was located, amidst several other stores, in a small ‘shopping center’, I now hoped that I could ‘get the attention’ of some persons who were outside of the store, just walking by. I waved my hands, hoping that at least one of the few walking persons would notice my desperate situation. But, to my dismay and to my frustration, not a single soul noticed my waving hands!

Different thoughts were racing through my mind, but I knew that I was penned (trapped) in this hardware store! I knew that I needed to get word to my wife, but how could that be done? Then, I happened to look at the ‘check out’ counter, and (fortunately/providentially) I noticed the presence of a telephone.

I wondered if I could get through to my wife, to let her know about this strange set of circumstances. No, I couldn’t tell her that my mission (to find mouse traps) was accomplished, but I could ask her to fulfill another mission – the mission of helping to get me out of my present terrible ‘mess’!

I called her, and she, of course, could hardly believe my ‘story’. No, it is not a ‘prank’ – this is the ‘real thing’. Venita quickly phoned the ‘police department’, and she told them about the details of my ‘predicament’. The policeman who talked to Venita was understanding and he was glad that she quickly called the police department. At that very time (as Venita was talking to the police officer), there were several police officers who were ‘on their way’ to the store!

If Venita would have waited much longer to call, there would have been a small group of police officers who would have shown up at the store – to talk to me! Venita ‘saved the day’ (night), and she also saved me from further ‘challenges’! I was nervous enough! Can you imagine how fast my heart would have ‘beat’, if a group of police officers would have surrounded me – in the premises of that store!

Would they have believed me, if I would have told them that I (innocently) had been on a ‘mission’ to purchase mouse traps? I only wanted to be a ‘good husband’ and to fulfill my assignment (mission) – to find some armament to battle a ‘pesky creature’ that brought ‘fright’ to my lovely wife, every time she saw one of those creatures run across her kitchen floor!

I did not know about the oncoming ‘small force’ of police officers who were ‘on their way’ to evaluate the situation at the hardware store. I don’t know, of course, but I suppose that my arrest could have been one of the options, when the police arrived at the store!

It was not too long until one police officer kindly came to the front door of the hardware store. He quickly opened the door to release me! How grateful I was to see him. He brought words of comfort and encouragement and understanding to me. A very kind man, as well as a responsible police officer, I was grateful for his ‘human touch’ and his kind words!

It was sweeter than my words can describe to be released from my ‘temporary prison’! It seemed like a long time, but, in reality, it might have been only a half hour that I was in the hardware store. Time, in those circumstances goes so slowly! After I left the confines of that store, to breath the ‘fresh night air’ was ‘heavenly’! I resumed my ‘mission’, I forthrightly went to another store in the area (a store that stays open all night), and I purchased those coveted ‘mouse traps’!

My wife’s sister (who was Venita’s companion for the entire evening), was determined, as soon as I made the phone call to my wife in the middle of the crisis, to go to the store, and to attempt to give me some ‘comfort’ while she stood outside of the store window (where she could view my inside predicament). It was while she was in the process of showing actions of compassion towards me, that Venita had made the call to the police department.

By the time that my sister-in-law got to the hardware store, I had already been ‘released’ by the police officer. The police officer was still at the front door of the store (probably to block any other person from entering the store), when my sister-in-law arrived at the store. My sister-in-law could not find me (for I had gone to another store to fulfill my ‘important mission’)! The police officer quickly assured my kind sister-in-law that I had been successfully rescued!

I returned to my home (with a sack full of mouse traps), and my sister-in-law came back to our home. Of course, my wife (who was attending to some elderly persons) never left our home. (As usual, however, my wife – a great problem-solver – helped solve the problem of that night, by calling the police department)! The three of us (adults) recounted the episode (inch by inch), and we had lots of laughs that night. We greatly enjoyed drinking hot chocolate together!

We have occasionally laughed since that historic night! When I often enter the front door to enjoy that hardware store, I chuckle inside myself. Was I the only naive soul that night who thought the store was open?

I never ‘dreamed’ that carrying out the mission of purchasing some mouse traps could involve so many complications (i,e. so many ‘twists’ and ‘turns’) in one night – a night that was supposed to be uneventful!

In the ‘battle with the mice’, the mice almost got the ‘upper hand!’ Do you suppose those ‘pesky, miniature, elusive, beasts’ are gathered together in their dark corner, and do you think that they are making music with their special ‘squeals’ – glad that some human ‘had fits’ trying to find those ‘mouse killers’? The battle between humans and the mice is a perpetual and a continuous battle! How ‘nerve-wracking’ it was to fulfill that important ‘mission’ – to find some ‘mouse killers’!

Have you ever wondered why God – the Creator God – decided to make these little ‘pesky’ creatures? Well, I will never know, but I also know that God makes no mistakes. There is a ‘reason’ for all things, in God’s own ‘season’! Maybe these little creatures teach a panic-stricken woman (who wants to climb on top of a dining room table when she sees a mouse heading for her) – I say, maybe these mice teach a woman who is panic-stricken, to ‘calm down and to trust the Creator’! After all, maybe there are some persons who want to laugh while they watch the ‘little creatures’ running and scampering – to and fro – in their garage! “Everyone to his own taste!” Ecclesiastes (Bible): “There is a time and a place for everything!

ls there a ‘time’ and a ‘place’ for God’s little furry creatures (mice)? Probably so, but it seems, however, for most of us (sensible) human beings, there is no place for mice, either in our garage, or in our kitchen, or in our living room, or in our bathroom, or in our office, or in our attic, or in our basement, or on our table, or underneath our couch!

I am willing for the little fuzzy, elusive creatures to live – but I think that they should live where I think God intended for them to live – in the fields of the countryside! Not in our houses!

If there were no little, quick-moving creatures that we call mice, I would never have to go on a mission to purchase ‘mouse traps’ – and I would never mistakenly go into a hardware store, when it is closed! I would never have to have a near ‘nervous breakdown’ when a shrilling alarm blasts my ear drums inside a store that I have no ‘business’ being in! O, the trials of life – all for the purpose of ridding my home of that furry little, fast running creature!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

The wedding day with many cackling chickens!

Let My Laughter Resound!


THE WEDDING DAY WITH MANY CACKLING CHICKENS!

It was on one of those hot summer afternoons – a scorching summer afternoon. It was a very sparsely attended wedding, held in the small sanctuary where I had preached every Sunday for several years. I hardly knew the couple who were scheduled on this day to exchange their wedding vows. It was a couple, probably in their early 20’s. It might have been through mutual friends that I was contacted to conduct the simple ceremony.

The day of the wedding had finally arrived. As brides usually are, this young bride was very beautiful, with her traditional long gown highlighting the afternoon wedding. Only a handful of friends were in attendance, to be witnesses to this important life-changing event. Hopefully, it would be a once-only event. After the wedding, unfortunately, I never had further contact with this couple.

As I stood before this young couple, ready to give my blessing to them (through the repetition of a few familiar historic words and a few quotations from the Scriptures), I personally noticed that the atmosphere of the sanctuary seemed rather ‘stuffy’ and rather ‘hot’! I soon learned that I was not the only one who sensed that the scorching heat from the out-of-doors. The intense heat was, apparently, making its way into the atmosphere of the church room where the ceremony was being conducted.

When I was fervently conducting the ceremony – carefully and thoughtfully reading the beautiful words regarding the sanctity of marriage – I glanced at the couple who was standing before me in such a dignified manner. The next thing I saw was most disturbing! The bride began to slightly move her body from one side to the other side – back and forth!

It was not her father, but it was the man (like a father to this bride) – the man who ‘gave her away’ earlier in the ceremony – who was keenly aware of the ‘critical situation’! He rushed from the second pew to the front of the sanctuary where the bride was tottering, and he caught her just before her head hit the hard church floor. He rescued her from a serious injury, just in time!

During the few previous minutes, when the bride was becoming so weak that she finally fainted, the groom did not realize what was transpiring. As he was carefully listening to the words of the ceremony, he was oblivious to the condition of his bride.

When the bride fell backwards in a ‘dead faint’, and when the man (who gave her away) caught her, this startled and stunned groom finally ‘gathered his senses’ to the point of going to his bride (as she lay on the floor, in the center isle of the sanctuary)! He frantically carried her to the front pew of the church, and he laid her out on the pew. (I was trying to keep my composure, in my established position, and I said a few words, salting those words with a little humor).

After he (and a few others) stretched the bride out on the front pew, the groom frantically dashed down the center isle of the church, and he quickly found some paper towels which he soaked with water, and then he dashed back to where his bride was beginning to ‘come to’. He applied the wet towels to her beautiful face.

This entire fiasco took place within only a few minutes (maybe 5 minutes), and, fortunately, the bride again took her place beside her groom. In spite of this happening (her fainting), the bride looked as beautiful now as before the ‘crisis’!

The wedding reception was held in a semi-country setting, located in the out-of-doors. Informality would be the word to describe both the wedding ceremony and the wedding reception. As I mentioned earlier, there were only a few friends and relatives in attendance at both the wedding and the reception.

The location for the reception was very close to a large shed – a shed that ‘housed’ hundreds and hundreds of chickens! Possibly, the man who acted as the ‘giving father’ at the wedding owned this huge ‘chicken farm’.

On my way to the out-door reception (which was, close in location to where the chicken farm was established), I say, on my way to the reception area, I was given an enthusiastic invitation to view (that is, to walk through) the large building that ‘housed’ the myriad of chickens! I had never walked through such a building, so I graciously consented to have a ‘tour’ through this amazing place!

Dressed in my best suit (for the wedding ceremony), I sensed a strange contrast (a dissonance) between the neatness and the dignity of my wedding attire, and the wildness and dirtiness of hundreds of chickens chirping and cackling loudly, as I passed hundreds of towering racks – racks from which the hundreds of chickens were making their needed ‘deposits’ (good fertilizer!).

To the guide, I expressed my ‘awe and wonderment’ that there could be such an amazing place – a remarkable business! I told the guide (who was a part of the wedding company) that he was gracious to take his time to show me this unique place! (l was secretly hoping that my beautiful wedding suit would not be the recipient of some ‘deposits’!).

After what seemed like a rather long tour through the chicken ‘house’ (even though, in reality, it did not consume that much time), I proceeded (like a gentleman) to the lawn area where the reception was already in progress.

Even though I noticed that it was a rather ‘strange’ thing – that is, that there were two lines that led to two different punch bowls, I got into one of the short lines, to take my turn to get a ‘drink’ of punch. After I drank a cup of punch, I decided that I would like to have another drink of that particular (delicious) punch. I still could not figure out why there were two lines and two bowls of punch.

At that point (as I had made a decision to get some more punch from the same bowl from which I had just had a drink), someone came quickly to me (the minister), and this person suggested that I was drinking from the wrong punch bowl. This person urged me to take punch from the other punch bowl. I responded that I really liked the taste of punch from the bowl from which I had just been served, and that I would like another drink of that ‘delicious punch’!

I sometimes, admittedly, am a ‘little slow in comprehension and in communication’! It finally ‘dawned on me’ why this person was urging me to go to the other bowl, why she told me that I did not want the punch from that particular bowl from which I had just been served. That punch, from that particular bowl, was spiked with alcohol!

Can you imagine how I felt – the minister who had just performed a wedding ceremony, a minister who had never tasted alcohol, a minister who had taught the young persons never to indulge in alcohol – I say, can you imagine a minister (namely, me) being very pleased with the taste of a spiked punched, and that he wanted another drink of that particular ‘punch’!

Considering all the wedding ceremonies and all the receptions that I have been a part of, this simple and unpredictable wedding ceremony, followed by a reception that had the marks of ‘uniqueness’ – a tour through a huge chicken shed, followed by the surprise that the minister was partaking of ‘exciting’ spiked punch – I say, considering all my previous experiences, it is easy to classify this over-all wedding ‘event’ as very ‘odd’, even very ‘laughable’!

One of the most unusual episodes in the ‘life of the pastorate’! I can’t help but ‘laugh’ when I think back of all the ‘twists and turns’, of all the unanticipated ‘happenings’ of that particular hot summer day! Thank God, the bride was not hurt, and no one else was hurt during those strange afternoon happenings, so I believe I have the liberty to have a ‘good laugh’ – a ‘good laugh’ when I allow my mind to take me on a little trip back to a happy (but odd) event, all dramatized on one hot summer afternoon.

I can’t get into the ‘small heads of chickens’, but I am going to think that the loud noises of the myriads of cackling chickens were the loud noises of chickens that were celebrating the happiness of that wedding day! I know that is a ‘crazy’ idea, but why not be ‘crazy’ sometimes? Ha! There surely must be some reason why God placed that chicken shed so close to the wedding reception!

Why would l, who believe in total abstinence (abstinence from all alcoholic beverages) be so ‘satisfied’ with spiked punch – and liked that spiked punch so much that I wanted a second glass? How odd! How very odd! How could I not even discern the taste of alcohol? What was wrong with my taste buds on that day? How could I be so naive? Was I still upset that the bride fainted, and nearly hit her head against the hard floor?

Was I continuing to think of those hundreds of chickens which I just viewed? Was the cackling sound from those hundreds of chickens still resounding (echoing) in my head? Was I still stunned with the series of ‘odd’ experiences of this day? Was I still contemplating what the injuries would have been if that man had not seen the fainting bride, and if she would have hit her head on that hard church floor? How could l, a minister of the Gospel, who has always been repulsed by the very smell of alcohol, be so attracted (on that summer afternoon) to the taste of ‘spiked punch’? l, who think that some persons around me are ‘odd’, have to admit, in my honest thoughts, that I too sometimes think I am ‘odd’! l, too, am also (at times) a rather ‘strange’ human being, definitely ‘unique’ and ‘one of a kind’ person! Are you, too?


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

“I must impress my future father-in-law!”

Let My Laughter Resound!


“I MUST IMPRESS MY FUTURE FATHER-IN-LAW!”

One summer, probably a year before I was to be married to my wife, I visited my future father-in-law’s ranch (the place where my future wife grew up). Of course, I did not know this rancher well, but I did know that he spent his entire life involved in all the tasks of ranching – raising cattle, putting up hay, and the other daily tasks of ranching. He was not a wealthy rancher, but, nevertheless, through careful budgeting and skillful management, this ‘rugged man’ had become successful in many ways in his ‘profession’.

More than his success in ranching, was his success in becoming a great man, in terms of the development of his godly character. He had a reputation, far and wide, in that part of ranch country, for his outstanding integrity and his trustworthiness. He was a ‘man of his word’. He treated his fellow ranchers with respect and with kindness.

He had an unusual love for his Lord! One of the greatest ‘loves’ of his life, was his love of his little Free Methodist Church, located a half mile from his home, located at the end of the tree-shadowed lane that connected his house to his church.

He seldom missed a church service, although in all honesty I must declare that, because of the weariness from his work, sometimes he found himself sleeping while a good sermon was being preached. This future father-in-law was kind and he was very generous (in his giving to his church and to needy persons).

He was unusually ‘extroverted’ in his personality. He never met a stranger. He loved to talk to anyone who would give him ‘the time of day’! He was very engaging and interesting and informative, when he visited with his fellow ranchers (at his home, or at his church, or at the small town coffee shop).

He had his own strong opinions about certain matters, but, on the other hand, he avoided arguments and debates with persons whom he cherished. He was always ‘conciliatory’ in his responses to people, not ‘adversarial’! He was practically-minded and quite pragmatic in his approach to life and to life’s problems. He was man of the Word (of God), and he daily practiced prayer. He was always kind to his livestock!

There was no man whom I esteemed and admired, as much as I did this unusual man. He was not interested in high-sounding theories, but he was committed to ‘workable solutions’ (especially when he was contemplating ‘ranch issues’). He was very supportive, in many ways, of the various pastors who came to fill the pulpit of his little church – the little church which was filled to overflowing for his funeral service (which happened many years after I became a ‘member of the family’).

Some of the ‘facts’ and ‘insights’ (shared above) I became aware of, after I became married to his daughter and after I spent quality time with my father-in-law (and with my choice mother-in-law who was a very godly and wise and intelligent woman). I was the son-in-law of these choice persons, for more than 30 years, before they respectively passed away.

I must return to the time when I was yet unmarried – a few months before I was married. I had full intention to marry the daughter of this rancher. I was aware that my future father-in-law knew that I was not raised on a ranch, that, indeed, I had no experience in the ‘ways of ranching’. But, nevertheless, on one occasion, when I was visiting on his ranch, I wanted him to know that I was interested in (though not knowledgeable of) the ‘lifestyle of the rancher!’

One particular morning (during my short vacation on the ranch), I decided that I wanted to ride along with my future father-in-law, in his pickup truck, to ‘check on the cattle’. He was a kind and companionable and conversational man, and he never tried to ‘put me on the spot’ regarding my lack of ‘ranch knowledge’. He knew that I was a ‘small town boy’, and he tried to engage me in conversation that would be edifying to both of us.

As he drove over the rough pasture land, we conversed some together. There were in the pastures, what were called ‘blow outs’ – large holes that had been formed as a result of the strong winds that blew away a lot of sand, scattered randomly in the pasture. Much of the pasture land was rough, and the pickup had to maneuver this rough pasture land. Obviously, the pickup steered clear of the few blow outs in the pasture.

My future father-in-law was not a large land owner, but, through careful management and budgeting, during his lifetime, he gradually purchased more and more acreage. I think, at this time that he owned about 2,000 acres. This land was divided into several smaller portions of land, to be used for specific purposes. Obviously, the smaller, divided portions of land were fenced off, with each smaller pasture having ‘access’ by way of a gate that, of course, could be opened and closed.

The morning that I rode with my future father-in-law, I saw the pickup approaching a closed gate – a gate that needed, of course, to be opened, so that we could proceed into the next pasture. There were cattle that needed to be check on, in the pasture, in the next pasture, on the other side of the upcoming gate.

I thought to myself that I wanted to make myself ‘useful’ – ‘useful’ to my future father-in-law. I will, therefore, offer to get out of the pickup, and I will open the gate to allow the pickup to proceed into the next pasture. And, of course, my future father-in-law can relax a few minutes, while I do the work of opening and closing the gate.

I was young (verily 20 years old at the time), so I jumped out of the pickup, and I hurriedly jogged towards the closed gate. I did not know what I was getting myself into! lt was a wire gate (certainly not a modern – type gate), and the strange mechanism that was used to squeeze the post to release the circular wire around the pole – the ancient mechanism was most difficult to handle! I finally, with the exercise of all the strength I could muster, released the strong circular wire that held the gate to the supporting pole.

My future father-in-law (much older than l, and much stronger in his arms than I was) – he watched me (probably with more sympathy than with criticism), as I struggled to release the wire gate from the supporting pole. I wondered how ranchers daily accomplished the task that I verily accomplished just now (that is, opening gates to go from one pasture to another pasture)!

After I finally (with great effort) accomplished my task of opening the gate, I knew that my volunteer job was only half done. After the pickup proceeded through the now-open gate, I would have to close (shut) the gate. I knew that it would be just as hard (maybe harder) to close (shut) the gate than it was to open the gate! I knew that it would require the exertion of all the ‘arm and shoulder muscle’ that I had! One thing this ‘humiliating experience’ taught me was that I was marrying into a rancher family – a ranger family whose ‘head’ of the family was a man who (after having spent many decades with cattle on pasture lands) was very strong and rugged’!

I was young, a competitive runner, but this rancher (who probably never ran a race) was much stronger than I was (and he had lived much longer). Opening and shutting gates that separated smaller pastures – this was a simple and a routine task to him. Why did this task require all the strength that I could possibly muster?

After the pick-up was driven through the now-open gate, I knew that I had the second-half of my task immediately ahead of me. I knew I had to give my ‘soul and body and mind’ to the difficult task of stretching that circular wire over the supporting post – with the use (aid) of the squeezing mechanism. It was so difficult for me to bring the end of the wire fence close enough to the supporting post, so that I could slide the circular wire over the top of the supporting post.

I was proud and I was satisfied with myself when, through my straining and grunting, I finally got the gate closed! I was excited that I could do something (as a future son-in-law) for my future father-in-law.

After I finished my sweat-producing task (opening and shutting the wire gate that divides the pastures from each other), I inwardly congratulated myself on a ‘job well done’! I was glad that I had demonstrated to my future father-in-law that I will be an involved and interested and companionable son-in-law! Even though I knew very little about the ‘lifestyle of ranching’, I nevertheless, will be a son-in-law that will be available (when I visit the ranch) to ‘carry on practical tasks’ for him! One of life’s abiding lessons: “Good intentions do not always produce good results!”

When I finished my grueling task of finally getting the wire gate closed (shut), I looked up, and I planned, of course, to take a few steps away from the closed gate, to get back inside of the pick-up (where my father-in-law was waiting for me).

I accomplished my task alright – I got the gate closed. But I ended up on the ‘Wrong Side Of The Fence’! Talk about embarrassment! With the great exertion of muscles, I finally got the gate closed, but, in my preoccupation with my formidable task, I was not aware that I was shutting the gate in a way that would leave me on the original side of the fence. I was still on the side of the original pasture, instead of being on the side of the pasture where we were ‘headed’ to feed some cattle! Of course, to get back to the pick-up, I had to climb over that rather high fence!

My father-in-law (to-be) did not humiliate me. He made no ‘ado’ regarding this incident. He loved to ‘have a little fun’, but he ‘played down my stupid mistake’! Of course, if he ever doubted that I might someday be a good ‘ranch hand’, I think ‘all doubts’ were (that morning) removed! Ha!

During the many years that I enjoyed being his son-in-law, I loved and I admired him and his dear wife (whom I highly admired as a wise and godly woman). It is hard for me to believe, but there was a time when he had me do some haying for him. How he could place so much confidence in me, I will never know!

There was at least one time he had me drive his large tractor, and this tractor pulled two large mowers. I know that when I turned the corners in the hay field (with a double blade attached to the mower), I left quite a lot of uncut hay on the corners. My dear father-in-law (the kind man that he was) saved my ‘dignity’, and he never criticized me for my ‘far-from-perfect’ job of mowing in his beautiful hay fields.

He knew that I was not a ‘country boy’; he knew that I had no experience of working on the ‘ranch’ (in Nebraska). He was a good-humored man, and (as a dedicated Christian) he knew how to ‘take things in stride’ (to see the ‘funny side’ of life). He never once made fun of me because of my lack of knowledge or of my lack of experience on the ranch.

He was most respectful of my ‘call’ to the ministry, and he supported me (and Venita) totally and enthusiastically regarding the ‘call’! In fact, if it had not been for the generous financial gifts that he (and his wife) gave to us, we would have had a hard time ‘making it financially’ in the pastoral work.

He and his wife regularly gave us financial gifts (usually at the end of the year), and when Venita and I visited the ranch twice a year, we went back to our home with a box full of meat (choice cuts of beef)!

Once during our trip to the ranch, Venita’s dad took us to the largest (nearby) city, and (surprise of surprises) Venita’s dad presented to us a brand new car! Venita’s dad believed that we needed a better (more reliable and more presentable) car. I think this was the only new car that we ever owned! Of course, we drove that car for many years!

Venita’s folks (though they were ranchers) were definitely not wealthy, but they were generous to Venita and to me. They knew that, materially-speaking, we were living on a meager pastor’s salary, and, therefore, we needed a regular supplement to our salary!

Venita (with the example of frugality from her beloved parents) knew how to ‘stretch the dollars’ in our marriage! Part of Venita’s act of frugality was demonstrated by her canning of vegetables and through her freezing of fruit and meats. I think that in one year alone Venita put up about 400 quarts of garden stuff.

It takes a lot of skill to manipulate (drive) a large tractor, in a hay field. Venita’s dad used to ‘brag’ on Venita, because she (an experienced ranch girl) could be so ‘neat’ in the way she mowed the hay fields. She virtually left no hay on the corners! Venita’s dad was always respectful of me, but (rightly so) I never once heard my father-in-law tell me what a ‘great job’ I did while I was mowing the hay in his hay fields! Ha!

In spite of my humiliating experience (the late fiasco), at a time before I became a part of a rancher’s family, the man who was my beloved father-in-law for several decades, never belittled me, never focused on my faults, never rejected me. In fact, he and his wife (and Venita’s siblings) could not have been kinder to me and more thoughtful to me. Of course, there were times (in Venita’s family) when laughter resounded – wholesome and life-giving laughter! Laughter sometimes regarding innocent mistakes that were made, during the work-a-day life on the ranch!

I must admit that I never became adept (skilled) at opening and on shutting wire gates on the Glenn White Ranch, near Amelia, Nebraska! I will let my strong-armed father-in-law attend to that important job! I don’t need to embarrass myself again, with my futile attempts to ‘impress’ my father-in-law!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

Pranks, pranks, and more pranks!

Let My Laughter Resound!


PRANKS, PRANKS, AND MORE PRANKS!

Rev. Edgar Holmes Humphreys was the pastor of the Free Methodist Church at Fountain, Colorado, during my teen years, and it was this man who ‘took me under his wings’, to disciple me in the truths of Christianity. I spent much time with his son, Art, whom I considered to be my ‘best friend’ during my difficult adolescent years.

Art was a rather impulsive, high strung teen, but he was a ‘real companion’ to me. In fact, he was the only ‘close friend’ that I enjoyed during those years of my life – years in which my own emotional life was sometimes far from ‘stable’.

Art seemed to really enjoy me, and I really enjoyed him. He was a ‘real pal’ to me. He was ‘fun-loving’, spiritually-minded, talented, and a loyal friend to me. He was a ‘leader type’ person, so I tended to listen to his many suggestions and his creative ideas.

He, like most teens, could demonstrate, at times, unstable behavior, but, nevertheless, Art had a commitment to Christ, and a commitment to a life of integrity. Art admired his minister father, and he, along with myself, often ‘sat at the feet’ of his father, to listen and to learn from the lips of a mature man (a man who was scholarly, yet practical, in his approach to the ‘way of holiness’). I loved to spend a lot of time in Art’s home, and I cherished Art’s dear parents.

It is true that Art was a serious-minded Christian teenager. He and I talked, at times, about the things of the ‘Christian Faith’. We prayed together, and he and I and a few other teens prepared ‘creative programs’, to ‘present’ to the small Sunday evening congregation at our small local church. Art (along with his two sisters) was very musical. He had a great voice, and he sang heart-moving solos, occasionally. I loved to hear him sing.

Even though I did not consider myself to be a ‘singer’, Art encouraged me (persuaded me) to sing duets with him! I didn’t really ‘know music’, but finally I consented to sing (in public) a certain song with him. I only knew how to sing the ‘lead’ part, but (believe it or not) we two sounded ‘quite professional’ together! (Ha!) “l Heard an Old, Old Story” was the song that we found enjoyment in singing together!

When today I hear someone sing that particular (old) song, my mind goes back a half century to the little white church on the corner, near downtown Fountain, Colorado, where Art and I blended our teenage voices, to tell of the wonders of God’s grace (highlighted in that song)!

So many years have come and have gone, since those heart-warming days – days when I found great pleasure in the home of a godly minister and his family! A period of time – approximately six years – when I spent much time with my loving, though impulsive, friend! “Precious memories, how they linger, how they ever flood my soul.” Years of great spiritual growth, years of intellectual stimulation, years of friendship!

I really loved my ‘close friend’ (Art), and I know that he, more than any other teen, influenced me during my growing up years (as a teenager). Art was warm and personable and friendly and affectionate (he was the ‘touchy type’ person).

He expressed a lot of affection towards me. He naturally ‘touched’ persons (on their shoulders) when he talked to them. It was easy for him to ‘hug’ persons, as an expression of his love and affection and admiration for others. He was popular with some persons, for he was overwhelming in the affirming words that he verbalized to his friends and to his relatives.

He was an outgoing, extroverted type of person. He sometimes was both the ‘laughing’ and the ‘laughable’ person in a group setting. He felt comfortable in social settings, and sometimes he liked to take ‘center stage’ in social gatherings. It was natural for him to laugh at his own jokes, or to laugh at the jokes of others.

Along with all the positive qualities in him (and there were many), Art could, at times, be mischievous and a little ‘too playful’! He tended to be so spontaneous in his approach to life, that he found it difficult to be disciplined in the pursuit of worthy goals. He was very ‘smart’, but he tended to leave things to the ‘last minute’, rather than properly to plan for the future. He loved to have a ‘good time’, and he loved to be a ‘jokester’.

He was compassionate towards people, but he tended ‘to ride on the wave of pleasure and joviality’. He loved a good joke, and he loved to laugh and laugh. He sometimes had a hard time finding a ‘balance’ between the serious pursuits of life (like studying) and the lighter moments of life (like fun and entertainment).

I, who was a serious-minded person, enjoyed being around him (for the most part), for he brought a certain ‘lightness to my spirit’ and a well-needed laughter to my lips. However, there were times when I felt he went ‘overboard’ on the ‘light side’ of life, to the exclusion of the more ‘serious side’ of life!

Art was one year behind me, in schooling. When I graduated from high school in 1962, I enrolled as a freshman at Central College, McPherson, Kansas. When Art graduated from high school the next year (1963), he expressed a desire to attend Central College, and he requested that he become my college roommate. That sounded ‘fine’ to me, so I consented.

Little did I know what I was ‘getting into’ when Art became my roommate! Art had the intellectual ability to excel academically at Central College. But, it seemed that often, during his first year at college, Art’s ‘ playful side’ overtook his ‘serious side’.

Of course, even though I had been his friend during our junior high and senior high years, I knew that I could not ‘probe’ into his personal academic life. But, from my limited perspective as his roommate, it was quite obvious that Art lacked the kind of discipline that he needed, if he were to succeed academically. I think he nearly ‘flunked’ some of his courses!

I knew that Art enjoyed playing ‘pranks’ on his friends, so I was not very surprised when I (his roommate) became, on occasion, the ‘brunt of his jokes’. Some jokes that were played on me may have been originated by other students. Even though I was only 18 years old at the time, I was assigned the responsibility, as third floor dorm assistant, to ‘check in’ all the fellow students on my third floor.

This included, not only the several college students who were approximately my age, but also the handful of high school students who also were members of the student body enrollment. (For several years, there was a small high school on campus that coexisted with the college student body).

Several of those high school boys happened to live on my dorm floor. I think some of these students were ‘troubled students’ whose frustrated parents decided to send them away from their home, to a place where their teens might be reformed.

The very nature of my somewhat disciplinarian role as a ‘watchdog’ of all the students (making sure that all the students on my entire floor were in their room by 10:00 p.m. every week-day night) – I say, my ‘role’ as an overseer and disciplinarian, obviously, ‘drew some fire’ from my fellow students on my third floor! A few students (especially a few rebellious high school students) gave me some ‘hassles’ (resistance), but, most of the students cooperated with me, and I enjoyed a good relationship with almost everyone!

However, since I was the dorm floor assistant, I was a ‘ready-made target’ for a few ‘creative pranks’! Because I was his long-time friend (and presently his college roommate), Art had to ‘join in on the fun’ – ‘at my expense’! Art (the fun-loving person that he was) could not ‘resist the temptation’ to ‘deliver a few pranks’ to me! I never knew who the ‘culprit’ was when I surprisingly became the recipient of some of the pranks.

I won’t accuse my roommate as the ‘culprit’ for all my pranks, for I am sure that other students on my floor were in on some of the ‘tricks’. However, Art liked to be identified as the ‘trickster’, when it came to the pranks he ‘played’ on me. At least a couple of the pranks were readily identified as the ‘work of my roommate’. Art loved to laugh when I was ‘caught’ in the midst of a prank – a prank that he had skillfully ‘pulled off’. Art’s creative brain worked to my disadvantage! Ha!

I knew that Art liked me (actually, I think he loved me), so I ‘went along with his fun’ (at my expense). Thank God, I never got angry or distressed when I became the object of some person’s pranks! I took the pranks ‘in graceful style’, and I joined the laughter of the prankster! Yes, I took the pranks gracefully, although some of the pranks brought some discomfort to me!

One evening, Art and I were relaxing in our dorm room, carrying on a casual conversation. Posing as the very ‘innocent’ and hospitable and generous person, Art offered me a sandwich. I thought that gesture on his part was a gesture of kindness, so I gladly accepted his ‘gift of a sandwich’.

My first bite into the sandwich soon revealed that he was playing a prank on me! Instead of the sandwich containing salad dressing (a delicious spread), the sandwich was layered with soap! The taste was horrible! Immediately, as I spit out the bite, Art laughed and laughed! Of course, I soon entered into his ‘jovial spirit’. He thought it was so ‘cool’ that he had ‘tricked me’! I did have to admit that he was rather ‘creative’ in his design of a sandwich to ‘fool’ (trick) me!

On another occasion, his creativity in designing an instrument of trickery was manifest, when I entered my dorm room, rather late on a week-end night (probably Friday night). During my sophomore year at college (which was Art’s first year), I was spending more and more time with a young lady – a young lady who eventually ‘won my heart’ altogether (the lady who eventually became my wife). I did not ‘date’ heavily, but occasionally I enjoyed spending time with Venita.

I will admit that the contraption (mechanism) that Art constructed (as a prank) was amazing! To this very day (after more than 50 years), I don’t yet know the dynamics of this contraption (unique devise). The devise was attached to the top of the door (not visible, of course, from the side of the door that I would see when I approached my room). Attached to the top of the inside of the door, there was an upright can, full of water. This can of water then flipped over to release all the water on the head of the person who entered the room! When I opened the door, the can automatically flipped over, and I got an unwanted shower of cold water! A surprise of surprises when I opened my door, late that Friday night!

Can you imagine the ‘hilarious laughter’ that erupted from the mouth and lips of Art Humphreys, when I was dashed with water, as soon as I entered my room! Art had waited for some time, in our dorm room, just to see the surprised expression on my face, when I (rather listless) opened the dorm room door!

I remembered this ‘prank’, after more than 50 years since it happened during my sophomore year of college! How long do you suppose Art remembered this prank? (It is too long of a story to recount in this book, but, sadly, Art was not able to remember that ‘prank’ as long as l, good-heartedly, remembered it, for Art died from cancer when he was probably in his 40’s).

Who were the ‘culprits’, I never knew, but there are a couple other ‘incidences’ that brought me the opposite responses – both distress and laughter.

Unlike my dear mother who definitely was a ‘perfectionist’ in her over-all lifestyle, but, particularly, in her homemaking habits, I tend to be, not unclean, but, nevertheless, rather ‘random’ in my lifestyle. When I say that I am ‘not unclean’, that statement is not totally accurate. As a student – intent on getting ‘good grades’ – I sometimes did not concentrate on washing my clothes as often as I should have! There was a special (odd) feature in the old-fashioned dorm room where I lived for several months.

The closets in these rooms were rather unique. The closets were both wide and very deep (probably 6 feet deep). Like a ‘large hole’ (a large rectangle, maybe 3 feet by 6 feet in dimension), with no door to confine the closet. Of course, it was like an ideal (large) ‘store room’ where I could deposit all my ‘dirty clothes’!

This storage area had a large capacity, so I could deposit lots of ‘dirty clothes’ in that convenient space. Admittedly (and I have no excuse), I piled my ‘dirty clothes’ into that large area, and many days (weeks?) passed by before I bundled up the ‘dirty clothes’ to take them some place to get them washed.

One day I began to admit to myself that I was ‘overdue’ in giving adequate attention to my ‘dirty clothes’. I admitted that I had become too preoccupied with other (important) matters, and that it was definitely time for me to pull out the dirty clothes, and to do what any responsible student does – wash his clothes!

With a certain degree of shame, to myself, I admitted that my ‘dirty clothes’ were getting so ‘smelly’ that the smell was actually permeating my entire dorm room! My irresponsible negligence was becoming very inexcusable! What would my mother think – a mother that was particular in everything she did, and who was committed to utmost cleanliness? I would not want her, presently, to scrutinize my dorm room! She would (kindly) suggest that I regularly ‘wash my clothes’!

The time had finally arrived for me to pull out all those ‘dirty clothes’ (not a ‘pleasant task’), and get those ‘stinky clothes’ washed! Why have I waited so long to do this ‘basic task’, and why did I have to endure the increasingly ‘foul smell’ that had been permeating my room for several weeks? I delighted myself that I finally was doing a ‘task’ that I hated – pulling out my many clothes that I had ‘stuffed’ into this ‘hole’ (called my closet)!

I came to the end of the ‘hole’, and I had removed all my ‘stinky clothes’, and, to my great surprise, I discovered at the very end of my ‘hole’ (closet) a ‘plastic container’ – a container with a lid that sealed the plastic container! I thought to myself, “What in the world is this plastic container? It does not belong to me?” I was baffled by this container! I knew that the container contained something! But what?

As any other person would do, I did! I took off the lid to the container. But what a mistake I made, when I removed the lid to the container! Inside the container was ‘rotten fish’! As soon as I removed the lid of the container, the foul smell of the rotten fish, permeated the surrounding atmosphere! The odor of the rotten fish was the very odor that I had been smelling for quite some time, and, all along, I had imagined that the foul smell in my room was the foul smell of my dirty clothes!

With considerable shock, I took the container (that was the source of the ‘sickening odor’), and I dashed down the steps, from the third floor to the first floor, and I exited the old dorm building, and I quickly found a ‘dumping place’ where I ridded myself of the ‘rotten fish’! Just one ‘small problem’, however. While I was dashing down the steps of the three-story dormitory, I was leaving behind the permeating odor of the ‘rotten fish’. My gift of a new fragrance to all my fellow students in my dormitory!

A ‘prank in the same category’ happened to me, at a different time. Again, I noticed a strange ‘odor’ in my dorm room. Again, I thought that the ‘washing of my clothes’ was overdue. I would be ashamed if anyone came into my room, and would be nearly overpowered by the ‘terrible odor’ in my room.

I was raised by a mother who was committed to utmost cleanliness, so why am l, her son, so sloppy when it comes to keeping a ‘clean room’? I knew that uncleanness is inexcusable! I need to be more ‘conscientious’ regarding my ‘home keeping’ responsibilities!

I knew that the ‘atmosphere’ of my dorm room needed a ‘transformation’ (a change), and I knew that my clothes needed to be washed ‘on a regular schedule’. Oh, to be more disciplined!

One day, while I stretched out on my simple bed (to relax and to rest), I happened to be staring at the ceiling of my room. I noticed a rather strange shadow made by some object – an object that was lying in the light shades, at the center position of the ceiling! What a strange shadow in the shade, caused by some object that was lying in the shade! Of course, I removed the shade to discover the identity of the strange object!

I could hardly ‘believe what I was seeing’. There were two eggs lying inside the shade! On more careful observation, I realized that they were not fresh eggs. The two eggs were ‘rotten eggs!’

Eggs, when they were placed there – by some prankster – were, of course, fresh eggs. How long had these eggs been in that ceiling shade, undetected? I had not detected them! Of course, the pranksters intended for the two eggs to go undetected for a long time – at least undetected long enough to allow the unrefrigerated eggs to become ‘rotten’! As in the ‘case’ of the ‘rotten fish’, I disposed of the ‘rotten eggs’ as quickly as I could!

As ‘lazy’ as I sometimes can be, I could have excused myself from washing my clothes, since I could have reasoned that it was the ‘rotten fish’ or the ‘rotten eggs’ that were to ‘blame’ for the ‘stinky odors’ in my room. My mother, of course, would not have ‘bought that excuse’, and I know (in my more reasonable moments), that I could not blame the ‘rotten fish’ and the ‘rotten eggs’ for my stale atmosphere!

As the third floor dorm assistant, I early learned (when I was 18 years old) that I dare not take myself too ‘seriously’. I learned that, even though I was the ‘brunt of a joke’ (recipient of an innocent ‘prank’), I must allow others to ‘laugh’ because of their prank that they ‘pulled on me’, and that I must allow myself to ‘laugh along with the prankster’!

Even though I was the ‘object’ of the prank, why not have some ‘fun’ along with those who were ‘using’ me to produce laughter within themselves! As long as the laughter is not at the expense of hurting another person (a mean joke), then laughter is ‘beneficial and life-giving’!

There are likely a few persons in our world who laugh ‘too much’, but most of the other persons in our world (perhaps you and me) who don’t laugh enough!

When I was a student at Central College (as a dorm assistant), I learned as a teenager not to he overly sensitive to the responses of fellow students who liked to play pranks on me. Previously (as a teenager who grew up in a rather ‘serious environment’), I probably would have been upset (mad?) if any fellow teen would have played pranks on me (to my face or in secret).

I learned, when I was surrounded by teens on a dorm floor, that it was good to laugh at their pranks, it was good to ‘go with the flow’, it was good to humble myself and to he a part of a teen crowd who wanted to ‘have fun’ through pranks!

Even though I was ‘assigned to be a type of watchdog’ on the third floor of the college dorm, at times I needed to ‘let my hair down’ and to relax, and to laugh at a few pranks! Take God very seriously, but don’t take yourself so ‘seriously’! Laugh at yourself, and allow others to laugh when they ‘pull off’ a good prank (at your expense). Be a part of the fun and laughter that God intended you to enjoy!

Laughter is spontaneous for some (few) people, but most of us have to learn to be ‘light-hearted’ and ‘good-natured’ when we are the ‘brunt of a joke or of a prank’! I had to learn to ‘loosen up’, to be willing to let others laugh when I fall into their (innocent) ‘traps’ (their ‘contraptions’).

Don’t be self-conscious! Don’t be defensive! Don’t be overly-sensitive! Don’t be angry when others target you with their (innocent) pranks! God is a ‘laughing God’, so God wants you to be a ‘laughing servant’! God has ‘designed’ you to laugh (unlike the beasts of the field) – so be glad to laugh and laugh! Laughing will do ‘wonders for you’!

Life is too short for you to be so serious-minded! If you are not a prankster, allow the prankster to laugh at you when they ‘catch you in their pranks’. Don’t be offended by their pranks! Frankly, God was teaching me a lot about laughter (about the value of pranks) when I was quite young (at Central College). I was a very serious-minded (and sometimes emotionally-disturbed) teenager before I left my home to attend college, at age 17.

Because of the several ‘pranks’ that I experienced (when I was the ‘watchdog’ on the third floor of the old dormitory at Central College), I learned how to ‘loosen up’, to laugh at myself, and to laugh with fellow students who got their ‘kicks’ out of engineering ‘pranks’ for me! I found that life goes much smoother when I can open my mouth wide, hold my head back, and release some hearty and hilarious laughter from my God-created lips!

A little laughter can be compared to a little salt on food. Without salt, the food is not flavored tastefully. Without a little laughter, life can become too serious; life can become dull and tasteless. Too much salt, or too much laughter also does not produce the proper ‘flavor’, either in food or in general life. There must be ‘balance’ at all times. The book of Ecclesiastes notes that there is a time to laugh and a time not to laugh. The wise person (the God-directed person) knows the difference!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

Reflecting on the past and laughing in the present!

Let My Laughter Resound!


REFLECTING ON THE PAST AND LAUGHING IN THE PRESENT!

This experience was anything but humorous or ‘laughable’ while I was ‘suffering’ through it. But with the passage of time, and with the clarity of judgment, I have been able to more objectively view this experience! When I was a teenager, to fail miserably, in the presence of a house full of adults (some of whom were professionals and probably ‘perfectionists’) was a very formidable and ‘scary’ experience.

The fact that I can recount the details of that evening at the Baptist Church where the recital was held – this demonstrates that the embarrassment of that evening (53 years ago) has been indelibly imprinted on my brain! I remember this frightening experience very well, almost as if it happened last week.

This piano recital happened (I think) the summer of 1961 (over 50 years ago, from the time I am presently writing this account). I think I was then 16 years old, and I am now nearly 69 years old! What does this tell you about the miracle of the human memory? Many events of the past would be hard for us to recall (at least in detail), but those events of the past that were filled with strong emotions – it’s those memories that are relatively easy to recall (even after the passage of several decades)!

It is rather amazing that the human mind can look at an event, from more than ‘one angle’. That is to say, as in the example of my fiasco with my piano recital (which evoked pain in me), a person can eventually look at a ‘pain-giving’ episode from a different angle (than the angle that one at first saw the event).

I certainly (legitimately) could not laugh at my embarrassing ‘flop’ (massive failure) on the night of the recital (and immediately thereafter). I certainly could not (would not) appear with my music teacher, the week after the recital, and then start ‘laughing’ regarding my failure.

Only after the elapse of some time, (perhaps a lot of time), I began to see the ‘funny side’ of my major failure with my piano playing. Now, years later, when I tell of this long-ago incident, I have grandchildren (four of them) who think it is so ‘funny’ that I could not play the patriotic piece. Over and over they like to say ‘Oh, say can you see’ – and then, to emphasize my major failure, they will say the same ‘word’ over and over. ‘See’, ‘see’, ‘see’, ‘see’?

At this point in my life, I want my grandchildren (and friends) to tease me, to have fun with me, to emphasize my long-age piano recital fiasco! I am not sensitive to their ‘teasing’ of me, for, after all, I was the one who has learned to see the ‘light side’ of a one-time very heartbreaking event!

As long as we never make ‘fun’ (or hurt) anyone with our ‘jesting’, it is wise (as we get some ‘distance’ from an event that wasn’t at the time ‘laughable’), I say, it is wise for us to get a different ‘angle’ on the original event. We need, as we look at those distant events (which initially brought some embarrassment or discomfort) with a different ‘angle’ (with a different set of lens).

Most events (not the tragic events, caused by evil persons), I say, most events have a ‘funny side’ to them, if we are good-natured enough (humble enough) to allow ourselves to see the ‘funny side’.

Even though the event that we were initially involved in brought us some distress (embarrassment, etc.), when the event has passed, there may be some humorous aspects from that event that can be retrieved – that is, there may be some laughable or humorous or strange aspects that can be retrieved from the past event that can give you a ‘good laugh’!

It is a sign of maturity (objectivity) when you can recall some humorous aspects from your past ‘event’ – humor that can be used to allow you to share with your friends – to give them the small, but significant, gift of laughter!

The two episodes that I shared, previous to this episode regarding the piano recital – these two episodes are examples of finding humor in an event that, initially, was not laughable! When my math teacher (coach) became so frustrated with my lack of comprehension regarding a math concept, obviously, at the time of the event, I was not laughing.

I was embarrassed and rather shocked! But, often when I think about that beloved math teacher, and his impulsive action toward me, I do not feel anger or resentment. In fact, I am inclined to ‘smile’, and, at times, even to ‘laugh’. I laugh because of his impulsive behavior (unbecoming of a school teacher who is supposed to be ‘eternally patient’ with students).

I also laugh when I think of my own struggle with a math concept, and I laugh as I see myself trying to catch the blocks that the teacher threw at me (because of his frustration). I can still see myself shocked, as I see the blocks flying through the air, aimed at me who was sitting in the back of that small math class.

He was not throwing those blocks at me (in a vindictive manner), because he did not like me, but because he did like me – and he could not understand how I could be so ‘shallow’ in my understanding! I can’t help but laugh and laugh now – more than 50 years removed from that event which happened during my junior high period of life!

When I was ‘put on the spot’ and belittled and embarrassed by a teacher (this time in a high school algebra class) – by a ‘military-type’ teacher who used her piercing voice to tell me that she would rather be called a ‘cow’ than be called ‘MAAM’ – I certainly was not ‘laughing’. If I would have laughed at that tense time, I, of course, would have been sent to the principal’s office (maybe dismissed from her class permanently). No, I had no inclination to laugh (out loud) or to laugh (inwardly).

Far from laughing, I was nearly crying, and I was trembling inside. My emotions were erupting. On this second day of my education at Fountain High School, I was belittled and I was terribly embarrassed in front of my peers! I felt I was unfairly treated (which I, indeed, was). My mind was confused because I did not see that I had done anything wrong!

That experience (for a brand new sophomore) was traumatic, indeed. It took me a while to get over the trauma that came from that experience. My partial reconciliation with the teacher, based on much better information (regarding the teacher’s legitimate classroom rules), this ‘greater understanding of life’ brought considerable healing to my emotions and better understanding to my mind. As the years have come and gone, with further maturity in my life, I have found a ‘new angle’ by which to interpret the over-all ‘landscape’ of this experience from my high school life.

Without any desire to ‘make fun’ of this little soldier-like teacher (strict disciplinarian), I have shared (on a few occasions) the drama of my classroom experience, when this little (old maid) teacher came into the classroom, to find me returning from a pencil sharpener, and then to ‘blast’ me with her shrill voice! When I answered her question (as to what I was doing), and when I addressed her with the courteous title ‘ma’am’, she said that she would rather be called a ‘cow’ than be called ‘ma’am’! Now, from a distance, when I describe the kind of woman she was (without any derision towards her), and what she said to me, I find myself ‘laughing’ and ‘laughing’. And a few others have gotten a good laugh!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

Becoming a ‘Laughing’ and ‘Laughable’ person!

Let My Laughter Resound!


BECOMING A ‘LAUGHING’ AND A ‘LAUGHABLE’ PERSON!

The following (short accounts) – episodes that happened to me – all evoked ‘laughter’ within me. But, few of these happenings evoked ‘laughter’ at the time of the ‘happening’. In fact, it was only in retrospect (looking back) that most of these experiences brought a ‘smile’ or an outright ‘laugh’ to me. What now brings me a ‘laugh’, at the time brought me embarrassment or even physical discomfort.

Many times the ‘things’ (events) that happen to us are rather ‘strange’ (‘weird’), and we tend to ‘shake our head’ in disbelief that something like what we are experiencing, could ever happen to us!

At least we can say (if we wish to) that the ‘strange’ or ’embarrassing’ things that happen to us, keep life from becoming ‘boring’.

These out-of-the-ordinary and unexpected events or happenings, make us realize that ‘anything can happen to us’. When we look ‘silly’ or when we say ‘silly things’, the result is sometimes our humiliation. When we find ourselves in an embarrassing situation, we discover that we have a more realistic view of ourselves.

ln other words, we realize that we are not always the dignified (‘put together’) person that we would like to think that we are! When we do things or when we say things that are not the ‘mark of maturity’, we probably will have to sacrifice some of our ‘pride’, and replace that ‘pride’ (sense of ‘self-sufficiency) with greater humility.

If we ever were in any doubt that we were a member of the ‘common lot’ of humanity, when we ‘mess up’ and when we ‘blunder’ with our mouth, we are further convinced that we, indeed, are a fallible human being, similar to every other human being. As ‘smart’ as we are, and as ‘experienced’ as we are, we still can make embarrassing ‘mistakes’ and ‘blunders’ – mistakes and blunders which bring a ‘smile’ to the face of our friends, and should bring a ‘laugh’ to ourselves.

We learn, because of the embarrassing mistakes that we make (or because of the ‘laughable’ situations we get ourselves into), not to take ourselves so seriously. One of the most ‘health-giving’ things that we can do for ourselves is to ‘stand back’ (after our involvement in a ‘funny’ or an ’embarrassing’ situation) and ‘look at ourselves’ and then open our mouth and ‘laugh’ and ‘laugh’ and ‘laugh’!

It is a ‘health-giving’ action (based on a realistic and humble estimate of ourselves) to acknowledge our own foibles and faults and oddities and weaknesses and laughable actions!

It takes a mature and a humble and an objective person, if there is to be a realistic view of one’s own self. There are few things that are more ‘refreshing’ than for a person to see his own ‘oddities’ from the viewpoint of his friends, who (without any spirit of sneering) have seen the ‘funny things’ about him, for a long time.

To laugh at yourself, and to allow (without over-sensitivity) others to laugh at the ‘funny side’ of your personality – this requires that you have a spirit of humility.

To laugh at yourself and to let others laugh with you about your foibles, this is possible only if you are delivered from the ‘bondage of self-preoccupation’ and the ‘bondage of over-sensitivity’. To be ‘dead’ to your self-centeredness and to your selfish pride, is to be ‘free’ in Christ and is to be ‘free’ to love and to serve others without self-consciousness.

Also, it is to be ‘free’ to laugh at yourself (with no unhealthy feelings of self-depreciation)! You can stand tall with wholesome dignity, and, at the same time, not take yourself too seriously! Delivered from over-sensitivity and self-preoccupation, you are thereby ‘free’ to allow others to have a ‘good laugh’ regarding some of your own ‘strange ways’ (your personal oddities and your humorous foibles)!

You are, indeed, ‘free’ to laugh at yourself (to laugh at your own ‘weaknesses’ and your own ‘strange ways’), and you are also ‘free’ to encourage others to laugh along with you! Such a lifestyle (a relaxed lifestyle regarding yourself) is part of what Jesus described as the ‘abundant lifestyle’!

As humans, our greatest burden that we bear is the ‘burden of self-centeredness’ (over-sensitivity and a defensive reaction to other people)! When we are delivered from this burden (through our ‘death’ to our ‘carnal self’), we are truly ‘free’ to be at our ‘very best’!

Free to live at peace with our own self, free to live at peace with our God, and free to live at peace with other persons around us. We are, thus, not defensive but open to other persons, we are not overly sensitive to the intended (or unintended) ‘less-than-charitable’ remarks that people make to us or about us, we are not competitive with other persons because the humility of God has seized us (thus, we are learning humbly to ‘esteem others better than we esteem our own self’).

When we are ‘crucified’ to our own ‘carnal self’ (self-centeredness), we experience the ‘freedom’ to ‘forget’ about our own self! Instead, we concentrate on the needs of other persons.

We become gloriously ‘lost’ in the ‘wonder’ of other persons (their ‘stories’, their needs, their ‘hurts’, their potential, their unique contributions that they are making to society, their unique abilities and talents and spiritual gifting, their God-given personality, their special ‘call’ from God, their accomplishments in life).

Of course, because every person is a member of a ‘fallen race’ (with all the involvement in sinning that this ‘membership’ entails), Christian’s ‘dealing’ with people can be most frustrating and troublesome, as well as most rewarding and satisfying and enjoyable. Christians must embrace both kinds of persons (the saints and the sinners).

The abundant life of which Jesus spoke is the life in which a believer (as Jesus emphasized) ‘gives himself away’ to help meet the needs of other people. Jesus said that the one who ‘loses his life’ in serving others, is the one who truly finds himself (that is, he is the one who finds fulfillment in living). In contrast, the one who is a ‘self-seeker’ (that is, the one who ‘uses’ other persons to ‘advance his own selfish agenda’) loses his life – that is, his life has no purpose and no lasting duration. Such a self-seeking (selfish) person will become frustrated, and his life will become meaningless. Such a person fails to realize the purpose for which he is created – namely, to serve his fellow men and to bring honor to his Creator!

Such a humble (self-effacing) person knows that he is only a ‘Christian-in-the-making’, and that he is a long way from the ‘final perfection’ to which Christ has called him. In other words, such a humble (God-centered) person knows that, at best, he still has a lot of ‘rough edges’ in his life that he must work on to remove! He acknowledges that he has lot of oddities and mistakes and blunders and even ‘laughable’ things to eliminate from his life. He knows that, till the day of his death, he will still be only a ‘Christian under construction’.

He humbly realizes that, unbeknown to him, he will (ignorantly) do things and he will say things that are innocently done and innocently said, but that, nevertheless, are faults for which he will need the forgiveness from his fellow men.

The sincere believer knows that, amidst the faults that he will commit (for which he will need forgiveness), there will probably be things said and there will probably be things done that will (to the objective observer) evoke a ‘smile’ or evoke even an outright ‘laugh’.

Faults, innocently committed, will need, not only God’s gracious forgiveness, but will need also the patience and the understanding of his fellow men (who will likely be annoyed by some of his actions). “Confess your faults (and sins) to one another, that you may be healed!” (James 5) Marriage provides a ‘good platform’ for couples to practice confession of their faults, one to another. Growth in marriage is always growth in humility – and good humor!

People (particularly your friends) who are evoked to ‘laughter’ (by your oddities and by your foibles) have no desire to show you derision. Therefore, if you are the person who evokes laughter in your friends, you should gladly learn to laugh at yourself (because of your own foibles and oddities and mistakes)!

You should allow (without over-sensitivity) your friends (good-heartedly and openly) to laugh along with you! Because you have learned (by God’s grace) not to take yourself too seriously, you are able to combine your laughter with the laughter of your friends (even if you are the ‘object of laughter’).

Because of your own light-heartedness (and your own willingness to laugh at your own foibles, along with your friends), you have, thereby, given a much-needed ‘gift’ to your friends – the ‘gift of laughter’!

Again, let it be noted: If you can laugh at yourself, and if you allow others (friends) to laugh regarding your own foibles and mistakes and oddities, then you are well on your way to becoming a happy and a healthy person – a person who is humble and a person who is free from self-consciousness and free from over-sensitivity.

Laughter is a ‘gift from heaven’, a unique mark of being made in the ‘image of God’, a health-giving activity of the human race! There are some accounts of physically or mentally ill persons who have regained their health, through the ‘instrumentality’ of ‘hearty laughter’.

A little laughter each day will keep the ‘doldrums’ away! ‘Hearty laughter’ is one of the manifestations of ‘true freedom’. Learning to laugh at ourselves, and learning to laugh at the ‘odd events’ around us (i,e., the events where no one is harmed) helps us to ‘keep our humanity’, helps us to keep a sane, humble view of ourselves.

I have noticed that the somber, overly-sensitive, defensive-oriented, arrogant persons seldom laugh! If they do laugh, it is laughter that is centered on the ‘gross’ and the ‘unclean’ subjects of the ‘fleshly’ world.

It is the pure of heart (the persons who truly love God and who sincerely love their fellow men) who have the ‘most fun’ in life! They are the ones who know how to hold their head back and who know how to open their mouth wide and who know how to release hearty sounds of laughter from their lips! “God has given His children all things richly to enjoy” – and among those many things to enjoy is ‘Laughter’!


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!

Do you think Jesus laughed after his resurrection?

Let My Laughter Resound!


DO YOU THINK JESUS LAUGHED AFTER HIS RESURRECTION?

Using the phrase (of E. Stanley Jones) ‘constitutionally happy’, I believe that Jesus experienced joy and happiness and even ‘laughter’ at the ‘highest level’ of ecstasy! Because Jesus ‘finished His earthly task’, ‘completed His mission’, ‘fulfilled His purpose’, as a result of dying for the sins of all the world, and as a result of His resurrection, Jesus was the ‘happiest person in the entire Universe’.

Jesus, who was fully human as well as fully divine, said, while He suffered His agonizing death, ‘It Is Finished’. The purpose for which I, Jesus, came to earth has been accomplished. I, the Son of God, have done everything that is necessary (to fulfill the requirements of my Heavenly Father) to purchase the salvation for the entire human race (and for each person therein).

I, the Son of God, have perfectly kept the Laws of God; I have fulfilled all the demands of the Law – all because of my own perfect righteousness. No longer does Satan have a ‘claim’ on any human life, for I have redeemed (purchased) every person’s life with my own precious blood. Because of my ultimate sacrifice (my sacrifice of substitution for every person), no sinner need experience the just ‘anger’ of God! Rather, because of what I accomplished on the cross and through the empty tomb, every sinner can experience total forgiveness of all sin, and every repentant sinner can now enjoy the assurance of eternal life.


“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”

Table of contents: Let my laughter resound!