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Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Laughter (10/18/04)

TITLE: A Little Missouri Humor
By Verlie Ruhl


What a night! After a soul-wrenching call to repentance, one person after another made their way to the aisles and headed to the front of the small, crowded church. The lights seemed unnaturally bright, and the congregation vibrated with the energy and excitement of the evening.

But I was afraid that the tremendous events were having a negative effect on my husband, Jim. Although he had faithfully attended worship services with me for 10 years, he had resolutely refused to obey the Gospel, and now as he stood beside me, his 6-foot frame seemed stiff with resistance, his jaw set, his mouth tightly compressed. He disappeared into the crowd the minute the final prayer was said. I gathered up my things and headed for the dark parking lot. He wasn’t in the car. Where could he have gone?

After searching in the damp night air for several more minutes, I spotted someone. It was my best friend, Tammy.

“Kathy!” she said. “What on earth are you doing out here?”

“I thought Jim had gone to the car, but I can’t find him,” I replied.

“Jim’s about to be baptized, and you’re going to miss it!” Tammy hissed. She gripped my elbow in a not-very-gentle way and hustled me back into the church. Almost everyone had returned to their seats, and up there at the front, standing next to our minister in the waist-deep water of the baptistry, was Jim. He confessed in his quiet bass voice his belief that Jesus is both Lord and Christ. He was immersed, and a loud “Amen!” washed over me as the congregation welcomed their new brother.

Jim disappeared from view as he went to change. Friends who had agonized with me for years over the lost condition of his soul crowded around with tearful and jubilant congratulations. I carefully arranged the happiest look on my face that I could muster, but inside I was reeling. God had just dropped the deepest, most desperate desire of my heart into my lap—the salvation of my husband. Yet I couldn’t seem to get my arms around what had happened. I was so unworthy of this gift! I wanted to sit down and bawl.

I felt an arm around my shoulders, and looked into the deeply lined face of Mac, a spry but quite elderly man who had retired to our area after a lifetime of preaching in the Midwest. He smiled at teary my eyes and said, “Bless your heart! You’ve waited so long for this.” Then, he leaned closer and whispered, “I baptized a feller the size of Jim once. He was a floater! I had to crawl on top of him to get him under the water.” He gave my arm a squeeze, chuckled, and left. I gazed after him with a slack jaw. As the picture of a younger Mac determinedly bouncing on a floating 6-foot convert formed in my mind, a giggle gurgled its way up from my stomach. Then I snorted. And then the rampant joy of what had happened finally took hold. I laughed so hard that my sides shook, and the tears poured down my cheeks. For the first time in my adult life, everything was really, really all right! I could feel God’s corresponding delight as a tangible thing, mingling with and supporting my hilarity.

I saw Jim’s head over the crowd, coming toward me, sporting wet hair and a huge smile. Hallelujah! I thought. Thank you, God, for this unbelievable thing you have done for me, for the way you have changed Jim’s heart. Thank you for the way you have healed our family, and have given us a common goal and an uncommon love. And Lord—thank you for retired preachers from Missouri.

Member Comments
Member Date
Lynda Lee Schab 10/26/04
I got choked up! Wonderful rendition of such an exciting event! God is faithful! Thanks for sharing.
Love, Lynda
Martha Robinson10/26/04
I've been to one Missouri church service. What a wonderful salvation experience! Thanks for sharing!
Karri Compton10/27/04
Thanks for sharing that testimony. What a wonderful experience that must have been. God bless you.
Debbie OConnor10/27/04
Great job! This is a wonderful testimony. Thank God for the man with the funny story in hand! Sometimes we just have to have a release for all that joy.
Christine Rhee10/29/04
Hey Verle
Beautiful story!! I just read your comment on mine, then your story (it is true?) and felt your protagonist sharing the bubbling joy of the Father when the prodigal returned home.
Verlie Ruhl10/29/04
Thanks so much for all of your kind remarks! Yes, the story is true. I wanted to write it because it is dear to me, and also to justify myself--this happened 8 years ago, and other church members are still wondering why I was wandering around in the parking lot that night! My husband has grown so much--he now serves as a deacon, runs the sound system at church, bought a 9-passenger SUV so he could haul more of our youth group to teen events, and sings bass in an a capella Gospel quartet. God is so good!
L.M. Lee10/29/04
what a lot to be joyful about!
Teresa Lee Rainey10/31/04
Verlie, this is a beautiful testimony of faithfulness. I am very blessed for having read it. :^)
Hope Horner10/31/04
Great story and very well told. It pulled me right in! The great line about being a "floater" is really funny.
Thanks for sharing.
Phyllis Inniss06/10/05
I'm glad I got the opportunity to read this. It is beautifully told and the experience is truly worth sharing with others.