Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4
She thought it was funny. A long time ago, my family and I were visiting with my sister Kathy and her husband Stann. They lived way down South in the land of grits and hospitality, and we lived just across the river in Southern Illinois. We had had a great visit with them but soon it was time for us to head North. All of my sisters are good cooks…something they must have got from Momma. They also have good hospitality genes. When you visit you feel welcomed and when you leave, you know you will be missed.
Well, when it came time for us to leave, Miss Hospitality, kindly made us a lunch. She said, “I packed y’all some snacks and ham sandwiches so you can stop on the way and have a picnic”. I remember thinking just how kind that she was. To go through all that trouble and to save us a few dollars to boot. So, we loaded up and off we went. The girls were young, only seven or eight, and Sarah was not even a glimmer in our eyes. We drove and drove and then we drove some more and before long it was time for the big picnic.
If my memory serves me right we stopped at a picnic area on Nickajack Lake just north of the Georgia border and right inside Tennessee. It was a beautiful place for a great picnic lunch. My mouth watered as I thought about those delicious ham sandwiches with all the trimmings. And, and my wallet was happy too. McDonald’s wouldn’t be getting my business today…thanks to my kind sister. Did I mention how nice she was?
Well, we found a parking spot and chose a picnic table near the lake. Could it be any better? Well, I’m sure we bowed our heads in prayer, thanking God for the food and for the kindness of the one who made it possible. Judy passed out the sandwiches and strangely, I didn’t see any fixings. Hmmm. That was a bit strange. Nevertheless, I was grateful for the sandwich and I must have been the first to take a bite. Uh, something was wrong. Something was missing.
As I bit through the bread, there was no ham…there was no mustard…there was no mayo. All that lay between the bread was a single piece of paper that read, and I quote, “Ha, Ha, Ha.” Wait. What? Well apparently my Southern belle, hospitality laden sister had decided to play a practical joke. There were no ham sandwiches only meatless, slices of bread. Strangely, I don’t remember laughing. I only remember mourning the loss of my free lunch. Ha.Ha.Ha.
They say what goes around comes around and all my life I have been a practical joker and this time the joke was on me and my dear hungry wife and two precious, little hungry daughters. I guess the winner of the day was McDonald’s who ended up with my $6.75 after all. While I don’t remember laughing, I’m glad I don’t remember being mad either. In fact, I am sure that before long (but after a visit to McDonald’s), we were all laughing and couldn’t wait to call my sister when we got home.
As we journey through life we are going to have a lot of opportunities to either laugh or well, get mad. Can I suggest, may I encourage you, us, to do the latter and not the former? Too often we allow the fire of the moment to burn some valuable bridges. I can imagine a nasty phone call with words of regret and then days, weeks and months of silence from a broken relationship. Crazier things have happened, trust me. But gratefully, that wasn’t the way this story ended. In fact, I wonder if Kathy even remembers this. I do and it makes me smile.
Paul, the guy who wrote a lot of the New Testament, sitting in a Roman prison with NO ham sandwiches said, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” Well spoken, Paul, well spoken. So tomorrow or the next day, if you hit a bump, try to remember to smile and not frown. If someone decides to pull a joke at your expense, go ahead and extend a little grace and a smile. When you do, if you do—you can be sure the Father is smiling too. And no matter what, as always, He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne