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My Family's Holy Humor


  • My Family's Holy Humor

    God set me in a family, it seems, that has found great joy in serving the lord. It seems to us that our faith is strengthened when smiles are a vital ingredient among us. Its not that we intend to be sacrilegious or irreverent. Not a one of us in this family can picture Jesus always long-faced and somber. We genuinely believe he might have smiled a lot. We think he most likely laughed from his gut when blind eyes were opened and lame legs began walking!

    Our family's written accounts of humor began generations ago with my great-grandfather, Tom Sexton, better known far and near as The Blacksmith Preacher. Even in his drunken blacksmithing days people loved to hear him spin his yarns. They said he could pull tales out of thin air. Tom was probably as round as he was tall, around two hundred pounds and just over five and a half feet, and this made his stories all the more humorous. He was also an uneducated man who never learned correct English and never -- not one time -- claimed to be an eloquent speaker.

    Nevertheless, everywhere he went folks gathered around him to hear his tales and this became something the Lord used later in his life. His humor carried over into his preaching after he was converted, but our family doesn't find this one bit strange. Laughter, it seems to us, is in our genes. Part of our DNA. Take Tom for example. His prayers often came out funny.

    They say he hardly ever bowed his head to pray, but looked up, eyes open, as if talking eye to eye with the Almighty. Once before the start of a revival service, he looked up and prayed, "God, this is Tom Sexton a-talkin' to you again. As you know, this revival begins at 7:30 tonight and Lord, we expect you to be on time. So don't come a-draggin' in here at 9:00, 'cause there ain't a thing we can do till you get here! Amen."

    Up until his conversion Tom was fond of horse trading. One time while preaching a sermon, he was telling the people about his 'wicked' days before he knew the good Lord, and about a time when he'd spent the whole day at the jockey lot trying to unload an old nag that was half dead from the 'heaves'. (Whatever that is.) At the end of the day he came back home leading the poor old sick horse. The other men knew about the horse's condition and wouldn't pay him a dime for it.

    The next morning while his wife cooked breakfast Tom went to the stable trying to figure some way to rid himself of the animal and make some money too. As he stood there thinking, along came the visiting young preacher who was filling the pulpit while the Pastor was out of town. The two men struck up a conversation. Soon Tom's wife yelled that breakfast was ready. Tom started toward the house, he said, "wearing a broad smile."

    Mollie saw the man on a horse riding away, about to turn the bend in the road. "Thomas, wasn't that the visiting preacher man?" she asked.

    "It shore was," Tom answered, still wearing his big grin.

    "Don't tell me you sold him that half-dead heavin' horse!"

    "I shore did!"

    "Thomas Sexton, how in God's name could you do that to an innocent, unsuspecting preacher?"

    Looking her straight in the eye and putting on his most serious face, the blacksmith replied, "He was a stranger, and I took him in!"

    To our family, that was mean. But mean or not, we've laughed about it for generations.

    Time passed and Tom's Holy Humor came on down to my generation, I think. Like the time our family had moved and we were trying to find a church near our new home. At one church we visited, the preacher had a problem saying 'Lord.' It came out of his mouth as 'Lard'. He gave the altar call, saying, "I feel the Lard in this place! Come on down to this altar right now! Let the Lard in your heart!"

    All of us six children thought this terribly amusing and we were choking ourselves trying to swallow our giggles. Then mama snapped her finger at us and we knew to hush up quick. But the preacher continued, his voice rising with his urging. He pleaded, "The Lard is knocking at your heart's door. Let the Lard in, sinner! LET THE LARD IN!"

    Well, his loud pleading to the congregation woke up my baby sister and she started crying. Crying real loud. I leaned over and nodding my head up and down, whispered to mama, "She either wants her bottle or the Lard." To make a long story short, mama jerked up the baby, and me, and took us outside where she put the fear of God in me "for being cute", she said. Let me tell you, I didn't feel 'cute' by the time she finished tanning my rear, and I learned fast how to say 'Lord'. Our family (all except for me) still laughs about that, even though it was a half century ago.

    One of my cousins grew up and married a man who became a Baptist Preacher. One day the two of them went to a Pastors convention in a very large church. My cousin went to the ladies room while he found them a seat in the crowded sanctuary. The people were standing, singing the first song when she located him in the middle of the church, way up near the front. She made her way down the long aisle and to his side, as any good pastor's wife should.

    She was singing her heart out, she said, but kept hearing giggles behind her. She thought, How rude! Especially for Pastors and their wives! So she sang even louder and with as much gusto as she could. She said, "I could not believe how those people were carrying on, laughing and giggling!" Finally the song ended and they all sat down.

    It was then someone tapped her on the shoulder and a sweet lady's voice said in her ear, "Honey, I just thought you ought to know...the whole back of your skirt-tail is tucked in at your waist."

    My poor cousin nearly died of embarrassment, but our family still cracks a rib laughing about her predicament. (And I know I would have been laughing too, if I had been behind her.)

    Since I don't want to bore you with an overdose of our family's holy humor for now, I'll end this by saying we learned there's a valuable, but fragile, balance of seriousness and amusement in serving the Lord.

    Proverbs 17:22 says
    , "A merry heart doeth good like a medicine." Our family has always been very serious about the Lord, and his Word, but we also understand well that 'the joy of the Lord is our strength!' (Nehemiah 8:10)

    • Slug1
      Slug1 commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks Mawma... ya got me laughing here at work and I can't stop!!

    • be sure
      be sure commented
      Editing a comment
      many times "the joy of the Lord" truly was my strength to get through the day. Too many people are hurting and have forgotten how to laugh. Yes, this life is full of pain and disappointment, but the ability to laugh is vital. Having someone to laugh with is even more important. Laughing with family is priceless. Thanks for sharing.

    • Jeanne D
      Jeanne D commented
      Editing a comment
      I thoroughly enjoyed that! Thank you!

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