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Scandal, Death, Destruction – Sometimes You Laugh

March 22, 2014

I was the commencement speaker at a grand and formal graduation ceremony iimagen a North Carolina Christian school.  The memorable event was serene and ornate indeed; the grads were led in with great pomp and dignity.  Part of the program was each senior going and giving his/her parents a single rose, representing thankfulness and love.  The musicians were wonderful, the program was dignified.  Before I was to speak, one of the graduates named Bobby gave a short testimonial about the senior class members’ togetherness and mutual love.  As he listed the many events that the classmates enjoyed, Bobby mentioned a scary incident with fellow senior Callie – she had slipped on a hiking trail and stumbled down a rocky and unstable hillside.  Only a heroic effort of a human chain by the entire class kept her from a longer fall towards disaster.  It was a gripping story, but Bobby injected a short quip about being quick and nimble.

Callie was sitting in the second row in cap and gown.  She covered her face as she started weeping at the memory of her classmates risking harm to themselves in order to save her.  She was crying quite heavily but also silently … until Bobby made the humorous quip.

Callie laughed at the comment in the midst of her crying.  The sudden change in her emotions caused her to intake her breath sharply.

Through her nose.

And brother, she gave the loudest snort I have ever heard in my life.

Snnnaaaaaaarrrrrrrkkk.

It was gargantuan.  It was nuclear.  It was the Lamborghini of all snorts ever given in a public setting.  Callie had no microphone, but in that crowd of over five hundred people, she could be heard in the back row.  People – so help me, this is true – actually jumped, it was so loud.

And the worst thing that could happen to me in this deeply ornate setting started to settle in my chest.

I started to giggle.

You remember the time when you got tickled in a setting where it definitely should not happen?  A wedding, a church service, a funeral?  Well, guess what – I was in that situation and I was the main speaker, coming up next.

The temptation kept hopping up and down my throat.  My face kept twitching into an upward, idiotic grin.  Oh, I tried to think deep, metaphysical thoughts.  I tried to think of politics and puppies dying, but nothing worked.  I even tried coughing to shake it loose.  In short, I was in trouble.

I ascended the platform and stood before the awaiting audience.  With no other recourse, I merely repeated the quip and just leaned back and let out a belly laugh – thankfully, thankfully the audience was just as tense in pre-laughter as I was, and they exploded as well.

Laughter in the most awkward times.  That seems to be a subtitle in my life.

Yet I see that our gracious Lord interjects the truth of Ecclesiastes – “a time to laugh” – into situations where laughter is needed because all other emotions are expended.  When trials come, it’s easy to shed a waterfall of tears – you and I have done that.  It’s just as easy to get angry or depressed – those come naturally to the common man.  But to laugh – now, that’s a change of direction.  And  I don’t mean it figuratively – I’m talking about out-loud emotions.

Trisha and Kelly’s mother called me to come over to the house.  “Since my husband died, I’ve felt that there has been demonic activity lurking around in our house,” she said over the phone.  “Would you come over and pray that this would leave our home?”

I drove over, carrying my Bible into the home and meeting with the mother and two girls.  Sixteen-year old Trish and fifteen-year old Kelly greeted me in a more somber way than I saw them through the years.  They were worn by this fear.

The little poodle kept yapping a greeting at me.  “Trish,” said Mom, “put him in the side room.  This is serious and I don’t want any interruptions. ”  We then sat down and the family told me of their concerns about the Enemy’s influence in the household since the death of the head of the household.

I read some Scriptures of comfort and said, “Why don’t we just all get on our knees right here and hold hands and I’ll pray that the power of Christ will overcome the attacks of the Enemy and give this household peace once again?”

“It feels like demons are in here right now,” said Kelly.

“Let’s pray about it then,” I said, and we formed a small circle as we got on our knees and bowed our heads.

“Heavenly Father,” I prayed, “I’m asking now that the satanic influence in this home be taken out…”

ROOOOWWF!

No, it wasn’t a demon leaving the house.  It was the poodle in the side room, barking for attention.  Fido’s timing couldn’t have been more maliciously perfect, though.  The bark was so sharp and so clear and so timely that we all leaped about six inches off the floor while still on our knees.  I continued praying.

Then I heard a snicker to my left.  Trish was giggling.  Then to my right I heard whimpering.  Kelly was vainly trying to hold it all in.  Mom was chuckling.

I didn’t need to go any longer.  The four of us let out a whooping laugh, leaning back and wiping tears from our eyes.

“Oh, that scared me,” wheezed Mom.

“Yeah, I didn’t know what that was,” laughed Kelly, leaning on the sofa.  Trisha laughed and nodded.

And that was the last time the family had any more fears.  I visited them on other occasions and found a happy and loving household.  The joy of the Lord is indeed our strength, isn’t it?

Laughter is like a medicine, as the Scripture says.

The Carter household had suffered a series of losses throughout the calendar year.  I knew this family to be happy and the Carter twins to be active in the local school band.  This was a lean time for them, though. Mrs. Carter, little Jay, and high school twins Abby and Amanda had lost their dad in March.  They had a serious accident in April.  There was a kitchen fire in May.  Their car was stolen in June.   I was sitting with them in their front living room, listening to their summertime of woe as well: a refrigerator breakdown, the loss of Amanda’s summer job, even their beloved apple tree dying.

They sat morose and depressed.  “And to top it all off,” said Abby, her eyes flashing, “you wouldn’t believe what happened at band camp last week!”

“Something bad?” I asked.  What a stupid question.

She nodded.  “We went out into the camp parking lot after morning music practice.  The band director told us to put our instruments carefully in the corner of the parking lot and he’d have the staff put traffic cones around the instruments.  We went over to the far side of the parking lot for marching drills.  And do you know what happened?”

“I couldn’t guess,” I replied.

She waved her hands while Amanda nodded.  “A Volkswagen Bug lost control on the road and spun into the parking lot, skidding and weaving and stuff.  And the car ran right through the traffic cones and ran over our instruments!”

“”Did you have insurance covering your flute?” I asked.

“”Yes,” admitted Abby, “but I had this flute for three years. Do you want to see it?   You want to see what happened to it?”

Before I could respond she darted out of the room and brought in her damaged flute.   She held it up for me to see.

Oh, it was a flute all right. A flat flute.

Perfectly flat.

It looked like it came out of a David Letterman skit. I felt my mouth twitch.

Abby made it worse. She started rotating it slowly for dramatic effect. Flat side, thin side, flat side, thin side.

The whole family was looking at me, expecting words of commiseration. The giggle started deep in my chest. I opened my mouth, and for the life of me I don’t know why, but I burst out the first thing that came to my mind:

“Hey, you ought to get it bronzed and put on a plaque!”

The room grew deathly still. I knew I’d pushed the unseen boundaries of counseling. I had told a joke when I should have sympathized.

But the room exploded in laughter. Abby’s eyes lighted up and she looked again at Flat Flute and nodded while grinning: “Hey, that’s a good idea!” Mrs. Carter leaned back and slapped her thigh while little Jay fell forward. We laughed for a good five minutes, pointing and waving our hands.

Amanda wiped her eyes and chuckled, “Yeah, things get bad, but they also get funny, too.”

Good wisdom, Amanda. God allows bad stuff to elbow its way into our lives to perfect us, hone us, and ready us for a greater glory in heaven. We can get a greater glory in Heaven when we endure these trials.  That’s a pretty heavy statement, and I’ll leave you with that very verse for your study and contemplation today:

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. – 2 Corinthians 4:17

We all get trials.  We all suffer.  Some times we cry, and that’s okay.

Some times we can laugh as well, and that’s okay, too.

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2 Comments
  1. Gede Prama permalink

    Well written. May peace be with you 🙂

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