Thursday, May 5, 2011

God has a sense of humor

I have always been convinced God has a sense of humor.

I say that without any thought about diminishing His holiness, His greatness, His unchanging character or goodness.

I sometimes fear the reaction when I talk or write about my faith. I am not a perfect man and do not want to pass myself off that way. But I like to share when I have a good moment with Him, and this one had me laughing pretty good over the weekend.

The Bible says He created us in His image, which means He gave me a sense of humor – usually quirky and frequently in the form of awful puns – but a sense of humor nonetheless. So if He gave that to me, He must have a sense of humor himself (either that, or theologically I am treading on thin ice).

Sometimes, I think, He must be getting a good laugh from my antics, not to mention the harmless silliness in which we all engage from time to time, some more frequently than others do.

For example, for years after I started working at The Courier-News in Elgin, Ill., I often gave rides home to the security guards who worked there at night. I became great friends with one in particular, Shirl. We made each other laugh.

One night we both remember well, it was starting to rain as we left the office. It had been raining much of the day, but at the moment, it was not raining too hard, and I hoped to get her home before it cut loose again.

We talked about the rain – and that neither of us had an umbrella with us. While the lightning flashed frequently, the rumbles of thunder seemed far off as we made the 10-minute drive to her apartment on the north side of town.

The deluge, of course, began just as we were pulling into the parking lot, and it started with am immense “FLASH-BANG” as a bolt of lightning lit up the midnight sky and the thunder crashed around us,

Shirl screamed as the thunder vibrated rattled the car, and we both laughed nervously at the storm’s surge.

There was water on the pavement when we drove into the lot, but by the time we pulled into a parking space, an ankle-deep torrent was gushing along the curb in front of my car.
At the time, Shirl had a condition that made it difficult for her to get out of a car and walk up steps, so I grabbed a raincoat from the back seat to use as a makeshift umbrella to keep her dry as I helped her out.

I was wearing my Stetson – I have always loved the West. (I still wear it occasionally, although with two small holes in the top, not so frequently anymore). I had always joked it was my instant umbrella, and I figured it would keep me dry enough as I helped Shirl into her home.

Nevertheless, when Shirl swung her legs out of the car to plant her feet on the pavement, they landed in water up to her ankles. Still, her head was dry as I held the raincoat over her.

When I leaned over to help her stand, however, I was unaware of the water that in seconds had pooled in the brim of my hat. An icy-cold torrent streamed down her collar and onto her back. Shirl shrieked, and lightning and thunder cracked again overhead.

By the time I helped her up the steps to her door, we were both drenched, and we both agreed God had to be having a good chuckle over our misadventure.

That memory flashed back into my mind on Saturday night, April 30, shortly after I had posted my blog and then gone back into it to fix some of the html issues that can arise when working online.

In that blog post, “Frustration, impatience and a silly lizard,” I complained about how little progress I seemed to be making in my quest to find gainful employment after I was laid off five months ago. Frankly, I was feeling beyond discouraged, and somehow frustration and impatience seemed to fall far short of describing where I was at, psychologically and emotionally.

But as I finished, I decided to check my Gmail account one more time before shutting down the computer and heading off to bed.

The e-mail had arrived about 11:45 p.m., just 15 minutes after I had first posted the blog. I will not go into all the specifics except to say that the writer was inquiring about contracting with me as a copy editor for as much as 30 hours a week. Further, she had contacted me at the urging of a really great newsman with whom I had worked in Elgin until about 10 or 11 years ago.

My first though as I read the e-mail?

I started to laugh. “God, I appreciate your timing and your sense of humor on this.”

No, it is not full-time work, but it is a very positive, very encouraging development.

One of the most awesome aspects of my quest for a new job pertains to relationships – many call it networking. Over the years, I have encountered many great journalists who also are great people. I have also met some fantastic professionals who are not journalists.

Since my layoff, a number of them have forwarded me job leads, or recommended me to someone, or asked for a copy of my resume to send forward to someone they knew.

These kindnesses nearly always have occurred when I had hit low points, and in each case, they have proven an immense blessing simply because someone I had known had remembered me and reached out, trying to help. In one instance, I had been acquainted with the individual only a short time. In another case, a newsman I have never met in person but who has become an online mentor to me from afar has forwarded me many leads.

It is important to remember these kinds of things and not to lose sight of them, particularly when you are starting to feel discouraged, frustrated and impatient, which is precisely what I had done. They show you there are others out there who value you, whether as a person or as a professional.

And I think in this instance, God wanted not only to remind me of that, but also I think He knew I would appreciate a good laugh at that moment.