Laughter is one of God’s lubricants for life. Consider this “slick” story:
A Seattle third grade teacher had been teaching on the parts of the human body. All of the students passed her test except for one. When asked what the body was composed of, this sandy-haired, freckled-face boy voiced his response: “The human body is composed of three parts: the brainium, borax, and abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain. The borax contains the lungs, liver, and the living things. And the abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five—a, e, i, o, and u.”
What a riot! I chuckle every time I tell that story. Frankly, I just like to laugh. Someone has said that laughter is the sensation of feeling good all over and showing it in one place. Laughter releases chemicals in our bodies called endorphines—internal “drugs” that serve as painkillers. It’s a legal tranquilizer that carries no side effects. I’m hooked on laughing!
Spiritual giants like C.H. Spurgeon and Martin Luther were hooked, too. Luther once kidded, “If they don’t allow laughter in heaven then I don’t want to go there.” He went on to add, “If the earth is fit for laughter then surely heaven is filled with it. Heaven is the birthplace of laughter.” Spurgeon was once asked by the elders of his church to tone down his humor from the pulpit. The great English preacher replied, “Gentlemen, if you only knew how much I held back!”
Some of the most fun-loving people I know are spiritual giants of our age. Bill and Vonette Bright enjoyed laughing with each other and teasing one another just about as much as anyone I have known. Chuck Swindoll, pastor, author, and radio personality, has people who love his laugh almost as much as his preaching! Howard Hendricks, one of my former professors at Dallas Theological Seminary, peppers his messages with hilarious stories and some of the funniest faces you’ve ever seen.
And, it doesn’t take much to imagine that our Savior, Jesus Christ, had the most winsome smile and hearty laugh ever.
Have we lost our laughter?
You’d think God didn’t create a giggle box the way some Christians live. They act as though a couple of laughs a week is really excessive. They remind me of the sign just outside of the city limits of Aztec, New Mexico:
AZTEC, NEW MEXICO
5,667 FRIENDLY PEOPLE AND
6 OLD SOREHEADS
It’s too bad that any believer would fit in the “old sorehead” category.
The problem is we take everything too seriously—like it all depends upon us. Everything is heavy or weighty. Life can get that way, can’t it? We get too busy to have fun. We become so goal-oriented that people get in the way of living—especially those in our family. Or we get worn-down and cynical about the whole thing.
But life wasn’t made by God to be friction-free. And laughter is not a panacea for a person’s problems. Laughter doesn’t level life’s obstacles, but it does make the climb easier to bear.
When was the last time you got down on all fours and “ate your child’s tummy?” Wrestled in the “good” living room? Or tickled them ’til they begged you to quit? How about the last time you did something really rowdy or goofy at the dinner table? How about a food fight—one evening our family threw marshmallows at one another and laughed so hard we cried. Or how about reliving some funny memories with your family by looking at an old family picture album together? (After five years even the most professional wedding album is a guaranteed grin-getter.)
Love and laughter
Laughter and good marriages go well together. A Christian marriage ought to be found guilty of having too much wholesome, edifying fun rather than too little. Too many marriages become a cemetery, not a celebration. Marriages that stop courting (having fun) die slowly of boredom. Fun lifts us out of the daily ruts and assassinates the drab, boring, dull, and mundane. Laughter lightens loads and knits hearts together instantaneously.
The Scripture recognizes the reality of laughter. “There is an appointed time for everything … A time to weep, and a time to laugh” (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4).
God gave children a funny bone and a giggle-box to balance all of those of us who are overly intense. He gave our family kids who love to laugh. But it was Rebecca who lived to laugh. She has a beaming smile and giggle that is the all-time best. And when she got going at the supper table, pandemonium always broke loose—her giggle-box infected us all with an uncontrollable, delicious delight. In fact, we renamed Rebecca because of her love for laughter: “Rebecca Jean Joy Susie-Q Rainey.”
Laughter in the walls
My family taught me how to laugh. I’ll never forget my dad’s laugh (the best) and my mom’s sense of humor. Some of my fondest memories are of laughing so hard that the tears just streamed down our faces. I remember the time my mom gave herself a Hoover vacuum cleaner for Christmas and put it under the tree:
TO: MY DEAREST WIFE
I was 4 years old when I discovered my mom’s plot—she immediately swore me to secrecy. Two days passed, and when I could stand this deceit-filled thing no longer, I went to my dad and said indignantly, “Dad, mom is about to give herself a vacuum cleaner from you, but I’m ashamed to tell it!” Our home was filled with practical jokes, teasing, surprises, and importantly, laughter. It was a fun place to grow up—we all learned to laugh at ourselves.
Maybe at the end of your life you can experience in the words of Bob Benson, “Laughter in the Walls”:
I pass a lot of houses on my way home—some pretty, some expensive, some inviting—but my heart always skips a beat when I turn down the road and see my house nestled against the hill.
I guess I’m especially proud of the house and the way it looks because I drew the plans myself.
It started out large enough for us—I even had a study—two teenaged boys now reside in there. And it had a guest room—my girl and nine dolls are permanent guests. It had a small room Peg had hoped would be her sewing room—the boys swinging on the Dutch door have claimed this room as their own.
So it really doesn’t look right now as if I’m much of an architect. But it will get larger again—one by one they will go away to work, to college, to service, to their own houses, and then there will be room—a guest room, a study, and a sewing room for just the two of us.
But it won’t be empty—every comer, every room, every nick in the coffee table will be crowded with memories. Memories of picnics, parties, Christmases, bedside vigils, summers, fires, winters, going barefoot, leaving for vacation, cats, conversation, black eyes, graduations, first dates, ball games, arguments, washing dishes, bicycles, dogs, boat rides, getting home from vacation, meals, rabbits, and a thousand other things that fill the lives of those who would raise five.
And Peg and I will sit quietly by the fire and listen to the laughter in the walls.
Life is made up of pain. Disappointments. Pressure. Doubt. Trials. Confusion. We are all sapped of strength by these dark, ominous clouds. Like an exploding shaft of sunlight in a dark room, laughter illuminates life by reminding us not to be so serious. Why not leave a little laughter in the walls of your home tonight?
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