WARNING: What you are about to read will probably offend you, so my best advice is to STOP NOW and find another blog!
For the rest of you brave enough to stick around, I have a story to share. My 12-yr. old and I have been studying through the Proverbs this year. After tonight’s review lesson I asked my son to pray out loud with me. This was a bit of a divergence from the norm since usually I do all of the “out loud praying.” At first he refused. I got one of the usual excuses: “I don’t like to pray out loud, I pray silently.” Okay. But I pushed a little harder and got, “I don’t have anything to pray for because I already have everything I want.” Better. 🙂 So I said, “Then thank Him.” Without hesitation my son began to pray. It went something like this:
“Dear God, thank you for the TV shows I can watch that are ruining my eyes; and thank you for the video games I have to play that are turning my brain into mush; and thanks for the food I get to eat that will one day make me fat!”
Huh? Now, before I tell you what happened next, I want to tell you my reaction. I felt offended. Seriously. Offended for God. I was thinking, “What kind of prayer is that?!” In my mind I started scrambling to find the right thing to say to help him understand that praying is serious business. Trying to control my ‘righteous’ indignation, I inquired, “Why did you pray that, honey?” I don’t think I could have been more astounded at an answer than I was in that moment – or more completely disarmed! He said, “I wanted to make God laugh,” like it was obvious. And you know what? It was obvious. I can’t believe I missed it.
For 12 years I have been telling stories about my son, things he has done or said, or ways he has that absolutely crack me up. The greatest delight of my life has been the joy he has brought to our family. There has not been any other time in my adult life when I have laughed so much as I have since he was born. My boy loves to laugh and he loves to make others do it too. He knows it is an absolute gift. And in that moment he was even more of a gift than I had ever known. His heart was to give God the best gift he could think of – laughter! In the process he unwittingly revealed a deep seed of seriousness in me towards God. I began to wonder how much of that awful spiritual seriousness I had passed on to my girls and others in my life (or had tried to).
Unless you have faith like a little child …
And what do children do? They laugh! They have no concept of God as the serious (angry? disapproving?) grandfather we have been taught to ‘see’ when we pray. Remember the old chant “God is in His holy temple … let all the earth keep silent”? That’s not what Scripture says! The Psalms tell us to shout, laugh, cry, dance, express ourselves through our emotions to God. But how many of us (me included) see God as too serious to laugh with, to have fun with?
The Lord sits in heaven and laughs …
I think we imagine God to be serious because we take ourselves too seriously (little children are rarely even aware of themselves). Twice in the Psalms (chapters 2 and 37) we are told that God is laughing at the folly of man. In one instance mankind wants freedom from God’s rule, and in the other freedom from the restraints of His Law. Yet for the child who cannot imagine – indeed has no desire to imagine – this kind of ‘freedom’, there is only trust. Trust that they are being well cared for. Trust that they can be themselves and still know the loving touch of their Father. Trust that nothing is impossible with God. Trust that He is in control and that’s a good thing, a safe thing.
Thank you, son, for teaching me something tonight: I take myself and my ‘spiritual’ life way too seriously. Once again I can hear that still, small voice assuring me, “I’ve got this. In fact, I’ve got it all.” So I can relax, be myself, and maybe even chance to endeavor to pray to make Him laugh.