One Sunday afternoon, when our kids were small, my son’s friend Joel came for a visit. Like all small boys who know that this is a time when stressed out adults may be resting, Joel attacked the door with both fists.
ME: “Hi, Joel. Can I get something for you? Like a hammer?”
JOEL (holding a sharp stick): “Mr. Callaway, can I play with Stephen?”
ME (looking at the stick): “Sure.”
JOEL (poking an ant with the stick): “Where is he?”
ME (trying to gently confiscate the stick): “He’s up on the roof eating a banana.”
JOEL (after backing up far enough to see that Stephen isn’t on the roof): “I don’t see him.”
ME: “He’ll be down in a minute. Watch. He’ll slide down on the peel.”
JOEL (dropping the stick and backing onto the road to watch): “I STILL DON’T SEE HIM.”
STEPHEN (standing behind me now): “Hi, Joel!”
JOEL (picking up the stick): “Mr. Callaway, you were just joking me.”
Of course, a sense of humour can be carried too far. My wife gets the biggest laughs out of things that aren’t funny at all. Like the time I pulled into the yard on my bike and my front tire got caught between the lawn and the sidewalk, catapulting me unceremoniously into the bushes. Moments later the one who loves me more than life itself stood over me laughing and gasping for air. “You okay?” she asked as she began to hyperventilate. “Oh, I’m fine.” I replied. “The doctor can set the bone. And the teeth…we can get crowns.” From inside the house, three children were watching, their runny little noses pressed against the window pane. “Ha, Daddy funny,” one of them said.
I’m not sure I want them to inherit this particular brand of humour, but I do know this: a house filled with laughter will never be empty. Laughter is contagious. It draws people in. Do you want your kids to hang around? Then laugh lots. You might just find them bringing friends over too. When God moves into a house, laughter is certain to follow. Isaiah 12:6 says this: “Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” We have no guarantee that our children and grandchildren will choose to follow Jesus, but we can show them the contagious joy God brings.
So smile widely today. And if that smile tries to turn to a laugh, don’t be surprised and don’t try to stop it. A stifled laugh will turn inward and go straight to the hips.
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