Last week while visiting my parents for the Thanksgiving holiday, I’m ashamed to admit that I was too busy laughing to see God at work. Heather, the eldest of my two younger sisters, was recounting the experience she had with her boyfriend as they stopped by a cemetery to honor the request of a friend who could not be there in person. You see, I wasn’t prepared to see God at work that day.
Normally, I tend to be the person in our family gatherings that gets picked on – all in good fun, of course. Or at least that’s what I’m told. Having two sisters, I guess it’s inevitable that they join together to take down their older brother. My mom and wife usually join in the female chorus with my dad wisely remaining silent. This year, however, my youngest sister had honed in on Heather.
Heather had dominated the conversation around the table for a while so my little sister started pointing out idiosyncrasies in Heather’s delivery style. It started cracking us up, but it did not deter Heather from continuing her stories. We were rolling on the floor by the time Heather had reached the point of recounting the graveside story. Anything she said at that point drew a snarky comment from myself or my little sister. It was not the best display of good Christian love.
As she started to recount this story, she left the table and began to act it out. She knelt on the kitchen floor looking down as if she was at the actual grave site. We lost it. I’m not sure we were even listening to her anymore. We were too distracted at the hilarity of the situation to see the importance she attached to this experience. By the time I realized it, I knew I had offended her.
I’d also missed several signs along the way that God was working in her life even though it was being demonstrated right there in front of me. I wasn’t prepared to see God at work that day – not in her story, nor in her character. I was too busy laughing and trying to be on the “winning side” that I missed it. I’m reminded of someone else who couldn’t see God because they were too busy laughing.
12Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? 13And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? 14Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. 15Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh. – Genesis 18:12-15
Like Sarah, I was called out for laughing at my sister. Rather than admit my fault and apologize immediately, I questioned whether her experience was really from God. I think I even asked her what it would have meant if a garbage truck had pulled up (not my finest hour). At that moment, I had limited the possibilities of God. Rather than deal with my own skepticism, I became defensive.
What about you? Have you ever been too quick to dismiss someone’s experiences with God as absurd? Have you limited how God can interact with His people to only your acceptable methods? Have you ever been too busy laughing to see God?