I wrote a post last year about my umpteenth attempt at writing my testimony. But this umpteenth plus one attempt at writing my testimony wrote itself, sort of. The 50th anniversary of accepting Jesus as my Savior was last Thursday. I was not thinking of the significance of the day in January, but the thought of celebrating the ‘date’ came to mind. The thought would not leave. I asked God “Why?” It wasn’t until February that I did the math to realize the ‘significant’ “golden” anniversary, if you will. (I know, too many quotes. Is it significant or trivial? Just a day maybe? And just because it’s been fifty years is that golden? Do wedding anniversary rules cross over?) What stuck in my head after doing the math was my desire to do a comedy act. I had always included comedy in my presentations as an industrial trainer, training manager, etc. It was my means of diffusing arguments in class and helping me relax. I had done things for talent shows, but an hour and a half program? Never.
I was still unclear as to what to do when I asked to sit down with the minister. I sat in front of an empty MSWord screen and prayed, not knowing where to start. When I looked up, I saw two words typed on the page, “Humor Me.” Had I subconsciously thought of a ‘humor meeting’ and not finished typing? I didn’t even think about that. I just said, “Thank You, Lord, for the quick answer,” and started typing an outline.
I started with 4-5 hours of comedy. I cut it down regarding things that might be offensive to some people or triggering for certain physical or psychological issues. After talking to the pastor, I suddenly got an overpowering feeling that about half of the material could be related to Scripture. That’s when I had the final list of jokes, really humorous stories – except one that my wife told in our favorite wholesale warehouse store a week before the event. The final song was added just prior to that by a couple of weeks, embedded into the PowerPoint just days before (technical glitches).
But for the bulk of the humor, I practiced it for about a month or two before I realized that little details tied each comedian’s performance into my testimony. That part was totally unplanned, but it fortified my belief that God was leading me to do this.
Did we have anyone accept Jesus as their Savior that night? Not that I know of. It may have inspired people. Something may still happen. Did I learn anything? Yes, I did not notice my shortness of breath until I listened to the video playback. I was aware of it, but it has gotten worse. And, I saw my bald spot for the first time. No biggie. I already knew that I needed to lose weight. So, seeing my lousy body shape wasn’t pleasant, but not shocking either.
What I really learned was how God speaks to us in ways that we cannot imagine. Some people say that God only speaks through the Bible. They bolster their claim by tagging anyone who disagrees as a heretic. God gave me a burden on my heart to put together the performance, no audible words spoken – a combination of impressions in my consciousness and a feeling of uneasiness prompting action. With my wildly scattered ideas, the program was trimmed to a manageable hour and a half by the Holy Spirit guiding my thought process. Otherwise, how did my final jokes all relate to Scripture? The Holy Spirit is our Counselor and Guide, regardless of the mechanism. My comedy act will not be added to Scripture – not even close. Neither will any theologian’s interpretation of Scripture. No heresy here at all, but I feel it is heresy to deny the possibility of God speaking to us. He does speak. I have not experienced all the Spiritual gifts, but I do not deny them. The ties between elements of my testimony and the comedy routines of four comedians was no accident, just unplanned by me. That was God talking, regardless of mechanism. Does it say in the Bible anywhere, “Hat Rack, put on a comedy show on the night of your 50th anniversary of accepting Jesus?” No. But it was God talking.
I also learned that a lot of my friends are helpful. The videographer, a fellow church member, showed up less than 24 hours before the event, after several people had no idea who to turn to. The stage is not lit very well, but its adequate. Everything was guided by God and others were helping.
Why did I spend time with a lengthy introduction at the beginning of the performance before the first impression? I wanted to explain why a comedy act instead of something else, how comedy filled a void at an early age and shaped my life. Notice that I did not draw the conclusion in my testimony, but at age six, I wanted to bring Joy to the household, specifically my mother who had quit smiling. But ten years later, the focus was on my own lack of Joy and the pursuit of it. Yes, in tying a bow around everything, I learned more about myself. As my wife said, I became vulnerable. There could be personal attacks, but nothing like what others face in this world today when they profess their faith.
WARNING: No video segment is more than about 19 minutes, but the entire thing is 1.5 hours. You can view the segments that might interest you. I’m thinking of downloading a video editor and blending the segments, especially to repair breaks in the middle of a story, but when do I have the time? I will also be posting the Biblical connections to the jokes in the future.
The pastor introduced me as me being … me. He said that I studied great philosophers, but people would soon learn that I also study more earthy people. I think that was a great introduction.
I screwed up the joke (an actual true story) of my mother and I watching Laugh In. I forgot the punchline: “I have seen a frozen chosen thaw, and it’s not a pretty sight. If it happens again tonight, I have 911 on speed dial.” Oh, how the brain loses the wrong grey cells at the wrong time.
Oh, if you are wondering about the duck hunting trip, it continues in part 2. This next segment has my interpretation of a portion of Ken Davis’ Super Sheep.
The pastor had teased me a bit, especially when reminding folks of the event. He said that I’d get him back. That’s not my style, but I had to poke a little fun. In this next clip, the woman that I should have asked is his wife. She was more willing to give an ‘honest’ answer, all in jest.
The pastor insisted that I have a musical interlude. This was practiced by two different groups, not known by each other and not known to me until people showed up. We blended the two together, and everyone had fun with it. This segment of the video has my entire presentation of Jerry Clower stories. Frankly, I could have done a few hours just on his material, most of Clower’s stories having a moral lesson.
Mark Lowry was my last attempt at an impression. I had warned my wife, one year out of open-heart surgery, that one of the routines would be the ‘open-heart surgery’ routine – at least pieces of it, but when I looked into the audience, there was a widow sitting next to my wife, whose husband had open-heart surgery about twelve years ago, living eleven years before passing away. I gave her a hug afterward and she said she remembered two things when I brought that up, first, thinking she had lost him during the surgery / recovery and second, the wonderful memories of the eleven following years. It caused a cringe, but it brought back good memories of how God is faithful to us.
The conclusion to my testimony features several instances of God talking. Most of the time, it was an impression in my head, but the first may have been more physical. (I just can’t remember the exact details of that – just the exact words.) This segment talks about finding that perfect plan that God planned for you before the dawn of time. I thought Nobody by Mark John Hall / Bernie Herms / Matthew Joseph West was a perfect summary for my testimony.
Another flub here. I had planned to add that my mother feared me going to California and becoming a Hippie – thus trying to get me to deny my conversion. So, she wasn’t a total ogre. I still loved her and honored her.
And what better way to end the show than to reveal that the one-man show was not me, but Jesus, quoting the chorus final line from Nobody. And then, Red Skelton was my hero, so why not end the show with a classic line from a classic comedy show.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.