This is a true story: A certain pastor had a man in his church who was taking an extended business trip. It was going to happen at the time his family would be driving across country for a vacation; it couldn’t be helped. But after the man flew to his business trip, the whole thing got cut short. So he had choices. He could fly back home early, and enjoy the peace and quiet of having the home to himself. He could switch his return ticket for a ticket to the place his family was headed for. But he chose a third, rather bizarre, option. He flew to a city on the road his family would be traveling. Then he paid a cab driver to take him to a lonely spot on the highway, where he waited for his family to drive by and see him.
Can you imagine how long he must have waited? Can you imagine the scene in the car as they recognize him? Can you imagine the screams in that car as mom stomps on the brakes? The incredulous questions, “What in the world are you doing out here?” Imagine, after the shock has passed, the laughter in that car: “Man, I told you it was dad!” “You should have seen her face when she saw you!” Anyway, this guy’s plan worked to perfection. Later on, he was telling his pastor the story. And the pastor said, “Are you crazy? What if they’d passed out and driven off the road? What if they didn’t see you and just kept driving? Why would you do that?” The man’s response was, “Someday I’m going to be dead. I hope when my kids think about me, they’ll say, ‘ol’ dad was a really fun guy.’” That made the pastor think. “How will my kids remember me? ‘Ol’ dad, he really was into his work. He was in that office all day, every day.’ ‘Ol’ dad, he was all about keeping that yard mowed, nice and neat.’ ‘Ol’ dad, he really ran a tight ship. Remember what he did to me that time I got a D in physics?’”
Now I know what you’re thinking, because I thought it, too: Being a fun guy doesn’t put food on the table, doesn’t teach those kids respect for what’s right. I agree. Being “fun” is no substitute for responsibility, hard work, and discipline. Those are things the Bible talks extensively about, and they are essential. But guess what? The Bible also talks extensively about joy. In fact, the Old Testament contains 23 different Hebrew words for joy. It, too, is essential to life. And as we continue our study of the Fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26), we don’t see responsibility, hard work, or discipline. But we do see joy. What I want us all to see this Sunday is that if we are holy people, we will be people of joy. I hope to see you Sunday...and I hope you enjoy every minute until then.