Life is Funny

By Eugene C. Scott

My 2001 Pathfinder on a good day

As of today, my 11 year-old Nissan Pathfinder with only 267,000 miles on it won’t go into reverse. It could be worse. It might have been the other way around and I would have had to drive around backwards all day.Some people say reverse is a totally optional gear. That’s only true if you have someone nice enough and strong enough to push your car backwards.

That’s why I went to pick up my six-foot-something, couple hundred pound, ex-football player, friend and fellow blogger, Michael Gallup, from work at Chick-fil-A . He’s good at pushing.

But I told him we were going to a hospital in downtown Denver to visit a family in our church who had just experienced the miracle of the birth of their third child. A miracle it was. Not the birth, but that the wife let the husband live after her labor and delivery.

At The Chick, I parked head in–forgetting about my faulty transmission–and went inside. Michael looked professional wearing his name tag and neat blue fil-A shirt and bow-tie as he put his shoulder into the grill of my truck and pushed it out of the parking space as all his customers watched. I learned something just then. Chick-fil-A really is a full service fast food place.

On the way downtown, we lost ourselves in a conversation about systematic theology and the nature of God. Yes, real people do talk about such things, if you consider a pastor and a seminary student real people.

The conversation was so engaging we got a little distracted. I stopped at a light too far out, just a smidgen into the pedestrian cross walk. A woman had to walk around the nose of my car. I shrugged at her trying to say, “Sorry, I would back up but my reverse is broken.” I think she understood. At least she waved. But only with one finger.

After that, we got a little lost again and not just in conversation. So I pulled over to check my Google Map–making sure I would not have to back up to pull out. As I was working with my iPhone, a woman parked in front of me–ON A COMPLETELY EMPTY STREET WITH TONS OF OTHER PARKING SPACES–and got out of her car and walked away. I don’t think I hit her bumper pulling out.

Finally we arrived at the hospital. By now I had learned my lesson. Don’t trust Google Maps.

We drove around a bit looking for the perfect spot. This was handy because it also allowed us to finish our conversation about systematic theology, the true nature of preaching, and if there is life on other planets (just kidding about that last one).

Just then a space opened where no one could park in front of me. I whipped to the curb not thinking I would still have to back up to get into the spot. Without a word Michael jumped out and shouldered my truck back into the spot.

By then he had taken off his name tag and bow-tie. That was a shame because now all the people watching from the sidewalk didn’t know he was affiliated with Chick-fi-A.

I don’t want to diminish the reality that sometimes life is filled with tragedy. These are tough times-world over. Les Avery, a pastor I worked with years ago, would often say, “Scratch beneath the surface of any life and you will find pain unimaginable.” He was right.

But sometimes life is just funny. Reverse breaks. You discover your fly unzipped. You fart in a somber public place.

C. S. Lewis, of all people, noticed that only humans laughed and made jokes about passing gas. He believed this to be unlikely evidence humans were made in the image of God. (Try that one in your next apologetic debate with an atheist.) Not that God passes gas too. But our ability to laugh at ourselves–and especially in the face of tragedy–shows we are more than mere animals. We have some sense of objectivity–an ability to see ourselves as we really are–and laugh, or cry.

Life is not only tragedy. It is also a comedy. And laughter, fun, a good joke are gifts from God. Sometimes it just depends on your perspective.

By the way, the baby is healthy and beautiful. But its father was sitting a safe distance from its mother.

Eugene C. Scott loves to laugh and has driven around backwards and is co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


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11 responses to “Life is Funny

  1. elna

    Sorry this story is going to be in km’s…
    There was this old couple that lived in Nababeep, which is about 10 km’s from Springbok in the North-western Cape in South Africa. Their car had something wrong with the gear lever. So, whenever they drove down to Cape Town, which is about 600 km’s away, they would drive for 200 km’s and stop for a break. The old lady would make a fire and brew some coffee. When the coffee was ready the old man would have finished carving a new part for the gear-lever. They would drink their coffee, the lady would douse the fire and pack everything up, while the old man fitted the part and then they would drive for another 200 km’s…

    Now that is the way to enjoy life….!!!!

  2. Georgie-ann

    After a particularly difficult time of stress & being “under it” for a period of time in my life, I was eventually amazed to see that I had emerged from this “extended nightmare” with a greater sense of humor about a whole lot of things, that I had never found amusing before! Not everything — as some things are just not worthy of being taken “too lightly” — but plenty of stuff that would have been personally painful or depressing in some ways, became transformed into food for laughter. Perhaps I was taking the events of life less personally, and beginning to see some of the absurdities of our limited human nature and “the human condition” in a different light — things that are “going to happen anyway” and we can’t do too much about! Perhaps when a heavy pressure is released, is there a “spring back” effect of relief that makes us laugh!?,…and laugh and laugh!? I’ve heard that the devil absolutely hates to be laughed at! It truly offends his presumptuous “evil dignity.”

    “Lord, have mercy” is a prayer I pray both in sadness and humor, and even distress,…without God, where WOULD we be??? In many ways, we are very funny contingent creatures! (Funnier even than those who make a business or performance out of it!) Is our laughter/joy a sign of our sense of the freedom and liberty we have “in God,” a knowing that “one fine day” we will be escaping from these compelling earthly circumstances, including on-going man-made constrictions and the forces of gravity, debt and time — to mention only a few?!

    John 8:36 “Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”

    Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

  3. I remember a time when the car I was driving wouldn’t go into reverse. It was parked in the garage, which is flat, and I didn’t have a Michael Gallup to help me. I knew I had to push the large car out of the garage onto the driveway, which is very steep, and then jump into the car while it rolled backwards down the hill. It was a risk, but it worked, and it was quite exhilarating. The entire time I was pushing it backwards I was envisioning it ramming the mailbox or the camper across the street. Then I reached my destination and realized I would have to parallel park, unfortunately there weren’t any such spots. As I drove around looking I accidentally drove into a dead end. This car doesn’t turn on a dime at all, so I tried to make as tight of a turn as possible, which was about as tight as Kevin Smith’s seat while he was flying on Southwest. Unfortunately one car still blocked my way. I had to hop out of the car push it backwards, jump back in, and then drive to a spot where I could use gravity to help me back into a parking spot. Man, cars that don’t go in reverse are so much work. It was fun though.

    It seems, just like your car, life doesn’t go in reverse. So we might as well just go forward and then ask the big guy, God, for a push every once in a while.

  4. I had a great time with you yesterday. Thanks for elobrating on our theology of comedy.

  5. Pingback: An Epitaph to a White 2001 Nissan Pathfinder | The Neighborhood Café

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