PaPa had the best laugh.
A roar of joy, which widened eyes, and turned heads.
Filled a room.
As family lore goes, PaPa had suffered a terrible loss, but never talked about it. He was fond of saying, however, ‘one laughs well, who has wept long.’
This is a story of laughter.
PaPa’s farm had a creek running through, which hugged the border of his property. When the grand kids began to waddle, he let the straw grass grow, making a hedge between the house, and the swift moving stream. That summer, he worked in the creek to clear boulders, and pool a section. He smiled at his progress, and another year passed.
The following summer, he mowed all the way to the water’s edge, and sat on his favorite chair by the river. He watched closely as the children wandered near the water. Watched as they picked up stones and threw them in. He smiled, and another year passed.
During that winter, his wife could hear him in the barn, whistling. One time she came out with donuts and coffee and caught him with a fishing rod in hand, practicing casts into the haystack. She didn’t ask. During spring, he threw a bucket of trout into the creek. When the grandchildren came later that summer, they ran from the car, and headed straight for the water. They were old enough now to be trusted. Papa wandered down there whistling, watching the kids peer into the glassy pool.
“PaPa, there’s fish,” they blurted.
“You don’t say?”
“Do you have fishing poles, Papa?”
“You might check the barn.”
So the children ran, and found several poles in the corner, covered by cobwebs. They not only worked, but they were already baited with flies! By this time Papa had set up his chair by the creek bank. When they returned he showed them how to cast across the water, letting the flies sit on top. Squeals of laughter soon erupted.
“PaPa, a fish ate the fly!”
He would rise slowly, hardly able to contain his joy, and remove the sharp hook, let the kids caress the wiggling creature for a moment, and then drop it into a bucket by his feet. That evening the children boasted, ‘we caught all those fish!’ Papa slapped his knee and just laughed and laughed, a deep throated kind of joy that filled the kitchen, and put smiles on everyone.
“Yes, you caught all those fish!”
Like Papa, God celebrates when His children catch, “all those fish.” He joins us with laughter. He smiles with a father’s sense of pride. In His eye we see a knowing glint, as he anticipates us walking by faith behind the works He has prepared for us. Papa knows the time to open a path to the stream. He deepens the water and clears the rocks, prepares a perfect fishing hole. He stocks it, and waits. In the mean time, He even sets up our tackle. That’s when we’re waiting, too. Until the time He sees us ready, and His job is ready.
Are we willing to admit how little we do in the big scheme of things, when it comes to answered prayer, or when a person responds to our initiative? While we fish, we can see Him, at hand to untangle our line, point to where the fish might bite, and hum over us, in a picture of full chested joy coming from His heart. Isn’t that just like Him, to lead us to the stream, already stocked by His gracious hand, and then sit back and make us feel good when the first fish hits the bucket?
Amazing grace, it’s the sweetest sound.
For me, it’s a roar of joy from the heart of God, who suffered loss when His own Son died, to give us the gift of laughter.