Two farmers who were riding their horses to town one day. As they rode along, one farmer criticized the other farmer, saying he had a habit of interrupting people when they were speaking. “I do not,” the second farmer objected. “You do,” the first farmer said, “in fact, in all the years I’ve known you, we haven’t had a single conversation where you didn’t interrupt yourself at least once.” “That’s ridiculous!” the second farmer said. “I’ll prove it,” the first farmer said, “I bet you can’t say the Lord’s Prayer without interrupting yourself.” “It’s a bet,” the second farmer said, “What do I get if I win?” “My horse,” the first farmer said. So the second farmer closed his eyes, bowed his head, and began to pray “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. . .” He then paused, and asked “Do I get the saddle too?”
A Danish theologian named Soren Keirkegaard wrote a story about a prince who was searching for a bride. One day, he saw a beautiful peasant woman. In the days that followed, he went out of his way to pass by her home to catch glimpses of her. Eventually, he fell in love. But he had a problem. He could order her to marry him. But he wanted her to say yes because she loved him, not out of coercion. He could go to her in royal attire, in a golden carriage, drawn by six horses. But then he would never know if she truly loved him, or was just overwhelmed by his wealth. Then, he came upon an idea. With his father’s permission, he stripped off his royal robes, put on the garb of a commoner, and moved into her village. He lived like everyone else. He did menial work. And he created opportunities to interact with the woman. Over time, they became friends. They shared interests, and talked about life. Eventually, the woman came to love the prince as much as he loved her, and they were married.
“I saw him in church for the first time,” wrote an author. His new suit complimented his neatly combed hair. I had invited him to church many times. But he was never interested. Not that he was a bad man. He was highly respected in town. He was honest. He was generous. But he wasn’t interested in Christianity. Once, when a special service was coming up, I asked him to come. When he turned me down yet again, I asked him why he would not accept my invitation. With the pain still showing in his eyes, he told me about an experience 70 years earlier.
Ellen’s friend set her up on a blind date with a naval officer named Tom. Things went well. So each time Tom came home on leave, they would spend time together. Tom eventually proposed, and Ellen accepted. Tom gave her a ring and a pin made of signal flags. “It’s pretty,” she said, “What do they mean?” “They say `I love you’ in semaphore,” Tom explained. For the next month, she didn’t take off either item except to shower and sleep. At Christmas, she wore them to a party at the base where Tom was stationed. But as Ellen and Tom mingled, people laughed. Tom told her it was her imagination, and continued to introduce her to people. When Tom introduced her to an admiral, he almost spilled his drink. Ellen demanded to know what was going on. “Why is everyone laughing at me?” she asked. Once again Tom said it was her imagination, and claimed that people were laughing because it was a party.
For most of the day, a man had pain in his arm. When the pain moved to his chest, he knew he couldn’t continue to ignore what was happening and dialed 911. An ambulance then rushed him to the emergency room where it was confirmed that he was having a heart attack. Luckily, there was no damage. Erring on the side of caution, the emergency room doctor decided to admit him to make sure a second heart attack wasn’t lurking. The next day, a zealous chaplain walked into his room. For half an hour, the chaplain lectured the man on being thankful for God’s mercy in sparing him. Then the chaplain told the man that he needed to turn back to God and repent of his sins. “Tell the truth, brother,” the chaplain said, “during your heart attack, didn’t all your sins flash before your eyes?” With a mischievous grin, the man replied “Don’t be ridiculous, the heart attack only lasted six hours!”