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God’s Sense of Humor – 1

I was married five days before my twentieth birthday and ordained about three weeks later. So I guess I’ve been an official husband about twenty days longer than I’ve been an official minister. Usually I don’t think I’ve done a very good job with either title, but forty years later I’m kind of over worrying about it.

Looking back, I have often wondered what those Elders might have been thinking as they knelt beside me and extended their hands of covering and blessing at my ordination. If I had been praying over me I would have been asking God to give the kid a clue, not a church.

I barely knew God and what I learned during my brief stint at Bible college was that I didn’t think like many of the people I’d been thrown in with. Most of what I knew about God I learned from my mother when none of the family went to church. My clearest memories are of mom standing over a steamy iron, working through endless baskets of wrinkled shirts, dutifully pressing every piece, hanging them from makeshift clotheslines in the living room for people I didn’t know.

She would iron for hours watching her stories and singing gospel hymns in a sweet country twang that reminded you of Tammy Wynette. When she sat down to rest with a glass of iced tea, wiping the sweat from her forehead with a dishtowel and humming What a Friend We Have in Jesus, she’d close her eyes and smile and you could see Jesus all over her. I knew early on that God was real, His love dripped from my mother like rain from a slicker.

There was a song played around the campfire at Christian youth camps back then with a chorus that said, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they’ll know we are Christians by our love.” Which, I discovered, came from a quote from Jesus, when he said:

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

Looking back I realize that’s what I saw in my mother, the love of Jesus. I didn’t even know what a Christian was, at that point, but at eight or nine years old I knew what it felt like to be loved, and that’s what she gave me, unfailing love. When you’re a sweaty little boy with scuffed knees and elbows that you sit and pick the bloody gravel out of with dirty finger nails, and a smell that follows you like a small herd of cattle, you can be hard to love. But mom did it. Unconditionally.

I want to be like Jesus, and I'm still trying to be more like her. In my mind they seem a lot alike. I’m finally learning her secret. Love.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT