“Are there any prayer needs today?” I asked during a worship service. One person mentioned a neighbor who was sick. Another spoke of a couple with financial problems. A young man asked us to pray for the family of a friend’s grandmother who recently died. After hearing what seemed to be all the requests I said, “If there are no other needs then let us bow our heads and pray.”
Shortly after beginning the prayer, I felt something tugging on my pants leg and at the same time heard a loud whisper: “Preacher… Preacher… “I ‘needs’ something too!”
Still speaking, I slightly opened one eye and took a peek. A little boy was on his hands and knees below me, tugging on my pants leg as hard as he could and earnestly whispering: “Preacher, I ‘needs’ something too!”
The choir members behind were beginning to lose their composure and I could hear giggling in the background as the boy continued tugging on my pants and was by now speaking loudly: “Preacher, I ‘needs’ something!”
“Oh no!” I thought to myself. “In my arrogance and pride, had I ignored the needs of a small child? Maybe he knew of someone who was ill that we needed to include?” Feeling guilty and ashamed, I stopped the prayer and gently asked the young boy: “Yes son, what do you need?”
“Preacher, I ‘needs’ to go to the bathroom!”
Sometimes, you just have to laugh! I know what you’re thinking, “Larry, being a minister is serious business!” Yes it is. As a pastor, I’m exposed to the most sensitive and tragic moments in a person’s life. When ever there is an illness, death or marital dispute, I receive the call to listen and offer the soothing comfort of God.
But over the years, I have discovered something profound. God has a great sense of humor and we have been created to laugh as well as cry. Jesus said it himself in Luke 6:21. “God blesses you who weep now, for the time will come when you will laugh with joy.” What a great promise!
This is what I’ve learned about laughter:
- Laughter can calm your fears.
- Laughter can restore your hope.
- Laughter can ease your pain.
- Laughter can turn arrogance into humility.
I was returning to my home church for the first time since becoming a minister. I was also very nervous about how friends and family would respond. After all, these people only knew me as a wise-cracking teenager and as a manager of a local automobile dealership. Now, I was coming back to their congregation as a preacher? What a change! How would they react to this new me?
There was no need to worry. After the worship service, people surrounded me to offer congratulations and praise. Well, all of them except for one older gentleman who knew me since childhood. For a moment he stayed in the background and quietly watched. Then, he slowly walked forward, planted himself directly in front of me and stared deeply into my eyes for several seconds. (It seemed like hours!) With just a trace of a smile beginning to crack his stony face, he uttered the words that would shatter any sense of false pride, I might consider claiming.
“Larry, if God can turn you into a preacher, He can save just about anyone!”
What could I say? Sometimes, you just have to laugh!