Previous Challenge Entry
Topic: Laughter (10/18/04)
TITLE: A Little Missouri Humor
By Verlie Ruhl
LEAVE COMMENT ON ARTICLE
SEND A PRIVATE COMMENT
SEND ARTICLE TO A FRIEND
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.