It Helps If You Laugh
"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer."
"It Helps If You Laugh"
Here it is, "Mother's Day," a day to celebrate the women who raised us and the women who are raising our children. On this Mother's Day I want to make a confession: "I HAD THE MEANEST MOTHER IN THE WHOLE WORLD" That's right. I had the meanest Mother in the world.
While all the other kids ate candy or cookies for breakfast, I had to eat healthy stuff like cereal, eggs or pancakes. When they got cokes and chips for lunch, I had to eat a sandwich. And to top it off, I had to eat supper with the family.
My Mother insisted on knowing where I was at all times. She had to know who my friends were.
I had to be home on time, which was always earlier than anybody else. She made me wear clean clothes and take a bath (even when I didn't need one.) She was always telling me to make sure I had on clean underwear. She didn't want to be embarrassed by my dirty underwear if I got hit by a car.
Not only that but my Mom broke the child labor laws. She made me make my bed every day, and keep my room clean. I had to wash or dry the dishes. I had to mow the lawn and take out the trash. I had to learn how to vacuum and dust. I think there's still a warrant out on my Mom from the Environmental protection Agency. If there isn't there should have been because my Mom made me clean up the toxic waste in our family bathroom.
I really think she laid awake at night thinking of things to make my life miserable. And when I became a teenager, it got worse, she went from mean to cruel. First I had to learn to cook and help take care of my two bratty brothers. She made me tell the truth even if it killed me --- and sometimes it nearly did, especially when my Dad found out.
My friends couldn't honk their horns for me, Mom always wanted to meet them and made them come in the house. She wouldn't let me sleep all day on Saturdays like everybody else. NO! Mom made me get up and help around the house or go and help my Dad out at the farm.
The real cruelty came when I turned 16. Mom forced me to get a job. I had to go to work because Mom made me pay for my own car, the auto insurance, the gas, and everything. On top of that, I still had a curfew.
So you see, my mother was a failure. She was mean and cruel and she's the only one I can blame for the way I turned out. If she hadn't been so mean, I might have turned out different. Every time I hear some child, or my own, call their Mother mean, I thank God for having the meanest Mother in the world. And so, in honor of the meanest Mother in the world, I dedicate the rest of this sermon to all Mothers, but especially to my Mother and to Mary, the mother of my children.
In an old Hagar the Horrible cartoon, Hagar's wife Helga is seen cleaning the floor with a mop and bucket. She says to herself, "The house DOES look nice and shiny." As she digs up some flowers, she says, "Flowers for the table might be nice." As she's setting the table, Hagar asks, "When does the party begin?" Helga answers, "In a few minutes dear." Her daughter comes running in and says, "Mama, my party dress is all wrinkled." And Helga says, "I'll iron it." As she's taking a roast out of the oven, her son asks, "Mom, can you tie this package for me?" While she's tying the package Hagar asks if his friend "Lucky Eddie" can stay for dinner. She smiles and says, "Yes!" Then she gets busy decorating a cake.
In the last scene, everybody is gathered around the table. Hagar and the children shout, "Surprise!" Lucky Eddie leans over and asks Hagar, "What's the celebration for?" And Hagar says, "Why, it's Mother's Day."
Have you ever noticed how typical that is? Mom working on her special day? Mom taking care of everybody else first; sometimes even doing without. As important and independent as most of us men think we are; the truth is, the world couldn't get along without Mothers.
A fifteen year old boy came bounding into the house one afternoon and found his mother upstairs in bed. He asked if she was sick or something. He was truly concerned. Mom replied that as a matter of fact, she didn't feel well at all. The boy replied, "Well, don't worry about dinner. I'll be happy to carry you down to the stove."
See what I mean. Mothers are indispensable. Sure, kids brighten the home, but that's because they never turn off the lights. The truth is, we couldn't live without Mothers. And most of the time we take them for granted. Our passage from John, while not directly related to Mothers or parenting, is a model of the kind of love needed to be a good parent, a good mother. It takes lots of love. But that love has to be coupled with the ability to laugh.
Scientists have been studying the effects of laughter and have found that it has a profound and instantaneous effect on virtually every organ in the body. Laughter reduces health-sapping tension and stress. It relaxes the tissues as well as exercises most of the vital organs. Even a forced laugh, results in beneficial mental and physical effects.
One thing mothers and parents need is a healthy sense of humor. We need it because there are going to be days when the only thing you CAN do is either cry or laugh. And depend upon God to get you through. And laughter is so much better and more healing than tears. I believe this is one of the things that distinguishes Christian mothers from others. I also believe that Christian mothers have an extra dose of what it takes to make Mother's indispensable and loving. Besides the ability to laugh I think Christian mothers have three other traits.
I. BELIEVE IN THEIR KIDS:
A. First, Christian mothers believe in their kids. A teacher asked her class what they wanted to be when they grew up. She got all the usual answers, "President, Fireman, Doctor, Teacher, etc." until she got to Tommy. "Tommy, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
"Possible!" Tommy replied. The teacher asked, "Possible? What do you mean, possible?" Tommy explained, "Well, my mother's always saying, 'Tommy, you're impossible.' So, when I grow up, I want to become possible."
Even though their kids are impossible at times, Christian mothers always believe in their kids. They may not always believe them, but they always believe in them. And that's important for our children's sense of self-worth and for their future.
B. Benjamin West tells how he actually became a successful painter. When he was young, his mother went out and left him in charge of his sister Sally. Benjamin discovered some bottles of colored ink and began to do Sally's portrait. When Mom got home there was a horrible mess but she didn't say anything about it. She simply picked up the paper with the portrait and said, "Why, it's Sally!" and then she kissed Benjamin. And ever since that day, West has said, "My Mother's kiss made me a painter." Christian mothers believe in their kids.
II. THE TOUCH THAT SOOTHES AND SUPPORTS:
They also offer that much needed loving touch that soothes and supports.
A visitor to a telescope factory was fascinated by a workman who was polishing a lens with the palm of his hand. When asked why he was using his hand, the worker replied, "There comes a time in the making of a lens when nothing can be substituted for the human touch."
And that's true in parenting. The human touch is still essential. TVs, CD players, VCRs, computers all of these are great tools for learning and entertainment but they will never be good baby-sitters or teachers. They will never replace the loving touch of a mother or a father. Because that human touch gives strength, courage and faith. At times it offers healing and comfort. It soothes the skinned knee and the bruised ego.
At other times it might offer the well placed hand of discipline on the backside of a problem. But the human touch that is always given in love is a beautiful form of communication needing no words.
It's fantastic to see kids want to share their joy and exuberance and their discoveries with Mom and Dad. But it is a profound lesson from God when we see our kids at those times when all they want is to be held; to have their heads stroked and their backs caressed as they slowly drift off to sleep.
Christian mothers remind us of God's great love for humanity because they offer that loving touch we all so desperately need.
III. THE BEST TRANSLATION OF GOD'S WORD:
A. Finally, Christian mothers are the best translations of God's Word the world has ever seen.
Four preachers were discussing the merits of various translations of the Bible. One liked the King James Version because of it's rich heritage and beautiful poetic language. Another liked the Revised Standard Version because of its Greek and Hebrew literalness. The third preacher liked the New International Version because of it's modern language. The fourth preacher was silent. The other three finally pushed him into answering and he said, "I like my mother's translation best."
The other three were surprised and said, "We didn't know your mother did a translation of the Bible."
The fourth preacher smiled and said, "She sure did. She translated it into life. And it was the most convincing translation I ever saw or heard."
A Christian mother, by her faith and her example can teach more about faith kindness, and wisdom and more theology concerning, discipline, repentance, forgiveness and love than most seminary classes.
A reporter once asked the great theologian, Karl Barth: "Sir, you have written many huge volumes about God; tell me, how do you know it's all true?"
With eyes laughing, the learned German answered, "My mother told me."
B. A Christian mother, by her very example, can use the home as a Christian academy where Christian values and standards are modeled and passed on; where children can learn at an early age that we are all children of God, created in God's image. Through the Christian home, children are affirmed and encouraged.
There's a beautiful story in the biography of the British preacher G. Campbell Morgan. He had four sons who all became preachers. The youngest son, Howard, did a pulpit swap with his father, who happened to be visiting in London at the time. It just so happened that the whole family showed up to hear their father preach. Someone came into the Church parlor and asked, "Howard, who's the best preacher in your family?"
Howard, who was considered a great preacher himself, admired his father immensely. He looked across the room at his father and then without blinking an eye said, "My mother."
Sometimes men and women who never get in the pulpit or stand in front of a Sunday School class preach the greatest sermons of all. And they do it by living out the Word of God in their daily lives. And mothers do that. Christian mothers are the best translation of God's Word we have.
Everyone needs to know that there are going to be days when absolutely nothing goes right. The cake you bake will fall and the dog will eat half of the one you bought to replace it. The dozen eggs you just bought will go screaming out of your hand and none will survive. You'll plan a great meal and have it half way cooked and the oven will quit or the kids will come home and they all have to be someplace in the next thirty minutes and don't have time to eat.
There are going to be days when your kids will look at you and think you're the meanest mother in the whole world. There's a little poem I ran across that I want to share that might just get you through on those occasions.
Her cookie jar is always filled,
Her car is always ready;
She never shouts when milked is spilled,
She lets her kids go steady.
She rings a most indulgent curfew,
Her cooking's like no other.
Who is this paragon of virtue?
Why, EVERYBODY ELSE'S Mother!
The whole point is, it's not easy to be a mother or a parent. Parenting kids is kind of like holding a wet bar of soap. Too hard a grasp and it shots out of your hand like greased lightening, too loose a grip and it just slips away. A gentle but firm grasp keeps it in your control. Our children need that gentle but firm grasp.
When children are raised in a Christian environment with Christian values by active Christian parents, then they will be made ready for life. They will be able to cope creatively and responsibly with life. And that's all any parent, mother or father, could want for their children.
Just remember, sometimes it will get hectic. Plans will fall through. Tempers will flare. Feelings will get hurt. That's all part of being a family. But the love of God in Christ and the power of God's Holy Spirit will help you through those trying times. God will fill you with joy. And that's the Good News. We're never alone. In John 15:4 Jesus said, "Abide in me as I abide in you." And in Matthew 28:20 Jesus said, "And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age."
At times you may feel like you're alone. But God walks with us every step of the way. Even if you're labeled as the meanest mother in the world. Remember to trust Christ and remember to laugh. Keep your faith and your sense of humor, even when the kids call you the meanest mother in the world, because one day they will look back and praise God for you.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.