The picture above is one I snapped this morning from the passenger seat while my son did a practice run drive to school. In a stunning and inexplicable turn of events he turns 16 on Sunday. When you have a child who looked five when he was two and has towered over me for years, you’d think maybe I’d have seen this day coming. But it feels like yesterday that I couldn’t bring myself to correct him when he called all animals “doggy.” It was just so funny when he pointed to the bird in the sky, the fish in tank, and the squirrel scrambling up a tree — all were “Doggy!” Doggies everywhere has given me more than a decade of laughs. That beautiful boy is now a 6’5″ inch man with the same exact face and same sweet spirit, and can legally drive next week.
I did eventually, begrudgingly, teach him a few proper animal names, and I’ve tried to teach him some other useful stuff along the way. But the very most important thing I could ever, ever teach him is that Jesus is the answer. Nothing could ever be in the same universe of importance, obviously. But, I do think it is of great value to learn to laugh at yourself too.
Rule #1 Jesus is the Answer
It doesn’t matter what problem you point to in this world, Jesus has and is the answer. Facing something hard? Read the Gospels. Be humbled by what Jesus did for you and embrace the forgiveness Jesus offers. The one who has been forgiven, loves. The one who loves, obeys. It’s really that simple. No one is beyond redemption! No problem could ever be as big as He is. Trust Him. Listen to Him. Do what He says. Jesus is always the answer.
Rule #2 Never Lose Your Sense of Humor
My mom embodied this truth so well. She made very funny observations and enjoyed funny stories even just hours before she died. So I am confident that she’d think it was highly amusing that I fell in her grave. Yes, unbelievably that is a true statement.
This is how it happened. We had a lovely visitation at the funeral home on Sunday night. Then Monday was the funeral, and the service was perfect. Then we went to the cemetery and had a very brief ceremony, followed by a child and grandchild-only final few moments next to my mom. We chose not to be there for the actual internment. Understandably, Sam (10), had quite a few questions, having never been to a funeral. He asked, “Now, where will she be buried?”
The grave itself was just steps away. It had been dug and covered with plywood-type panels of wood. I took Sam’s hand and led him closer. I pointed to my brother Craig’s grave, “See, that is where Uncle Craig is buried. And here,” I said, using my best flight attendant aisle-way motion, “is where my dad is buried.”
Before I could finish my explanation, about my mom being buried between them, the ground beneath my feet began to give way. I promise I wasn’t even that close to the edge! I mean, truly, I was at least a foot away from the plywood. But down I went! Before I knew it the whole right side of my body was in the grave. I do not know if angels had me on a harness and yanked me up, or if adrenaline kicked in and I was momentarily Wonder Woman, or what. But in 0.18 seconds I got myself — seemingly unassisted — out of that grave.
People rushed over to help brush the dirt off and make sure I was alright. I’m the least flexible person in the world. I don’t know how I managed to do it totally unscathed. It seems like at the very least I would’ve dislocated something. But amazingly, by God’s grace, I was fine.
A little later, my cousin, Stephen, made two perfect observations: (1) Craig may have never stopped laughing had he witnessed it; and (2) It’s unreal that I did not lose my right shoe (which was a black, three-inch high, patent-leather pump). The amount of dirt I poured out of it was stunning. And what would I have done had it come off? I guess leave it, but I’m glad I didn’t have to explain why I only had one shoe. God glued it to my foot even with a pound or more of dirt inside it.
Of course, I’ve cracked up many times reliving this moment already. Have you ever heard of anything like it in your entire life? It’s really pretty hilarious!
Praise God that Solomon was right, there really is a time for everything under the sun. Praise Him too that the time to to laugh and the time to mourn can be surprisingly close together.
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,