Earlier this week I drove around with my two sons and we yelled at cows.
If you’re a dad, you haven’t really lived until you’ve seen the look on your six-year-old’s face while he’s yelling at cows. But there was a strategy behind my decision to pull over on the side of the road, allow my two boys to stick their heads out of the windows and start screaming at Mae Belle or Bessie or New York Strip #230-75 or whatever people name their cows.
When my sons are old and trying to lead a family of their own I want them to look back on their childhood and remember a lot of laughter. And I want them to make a habit of stopping whatever it is that they’re doing to laugh with their kids. I hope that the example of fatherly joy will give them a small taste of the infinite joy of their Heavenly Father (Psalm 16:11).
When I was a kid, several families in my church were hosting prayer groups in their home. At the end of one of our evening services, each family stood up to invite people to their home and tell what kind of food they would be having.
“My husband and I would love to have you at our home for prayer. Afterwards we’ll be having chicken salad.”
“Come to our house this Thursday night at 6 for prayer and hot dogs.”
This went on for several minutes before the lady behind me stood up to invite people to her house. She gave her name and address and then let out this beauty.
“We’ll have no food. We don’t eat. We pray.”
Up until this moment in my childhood, I wasn’t aware that we had a Nazi in our church. I have no idea if anyone showed up to her prayer meeting but I do know that I hadn’t been so scared at church since the time they played Black Sabbath records backwards. The message was clear. Serious Christians don’t have fun. Or laugh. Or eat chicken salad.
I get where some of this comes from. There’s a lot of laughter that’s rooted in sin. There are some church leaders who seem more concerned with making people laugh than they are training up disciples. There are plenty of entertainers that have spent their careers essentially telling dirty jokes. But if we place all laughter to the side, I think we miss something about the character of our Lord. Yes his wrath is real. Yes he is holy. Yes he demands righteousness through faith and repentance in his Son. But he is also eternally and infinitely happy.
Some of the godliest men I know are laughers. When I think of these men and the impact they have had on me and others I think of their smiling faces and often peculiar laughs. When we talk to each other, we laugh.
If Jesus doesn’t come back first, I hope that many years from now my two sons will sit down with all of their grandchildren and say the same thing about me.
“My dad was a godly man. He taught us how to laugh. We yelled at cows together.”