As our girls were growing up, I spent father/daughter time by taking them individually on a trip. They picked the location and the restaurants. One year Breanne chose Orlando, home of Disney World. Our hotel was right by McDonalds. We had fourteen meals at McDonalds that week. I was soon called McCharles. At Disney World I was able to watch the interaction between parents and their children, and most of the kids weren't having fun at a place built for kids. I saw a man dragging his kid while telling him, "You're going to see Mickey Mouse." The kid said, "But I don't like Mickey Mouse." The father countered, "I've driven 677 miles, and you're going to see Mickey Mouse." Other children were hurried from ride to ride. Parents were trying to get the best dollar per ride ratio. They figured they had paid $50 and they needed to ride at least thirty rides. That logic made the kids miserable. Here I was at the place made for fun and the kids weren't having any.
Let me ask you something. Have you had any fun lately? I live in a state where people flock to casinos. Why? Do they go to make money? I don't think their IQ Test came back negative. They are looking for fun. I guess the biggest compliment we received as a family was from our niece. She stayed with us for a weekend and said, "I like to stay at Uncle Charles and Aunt Penny's house. It's the laughing house." She meant that it was a place where people liked to have fun.
It wasn't always that way. I realized at one point in my life I was against just about everything. My kids would ask, "Can we do that?" I'd say, "No, it's too expensive." "Can we do this?" "No, we're Christians." "Well, how about that?" "No, it's Sunday." My kids would finally ask, "Well, what can we do?" "Nothing," I would reply. "You have to be miserable the rest of your life just like me."
Sadly, the worst day was Sunday. It is incredible what happens. People scream at each other. "You have twenty-eight seconds to eat those Fruit Loops, boy. We have to go to church. Praise Jesus." You know how it is when you're trying to get the family ready for church. You have to get everyone dressed and teeth brushed. Dads are what I call "heavenly honkers." The men go out to the car and honk, honk, honk, while yelling, "We have to go, we're late!" We don't think about helping. We just honk and holler.
It was the same when I grew up. We got in the car, slammed a door, and everyone was in a bad mood. We look more steamed than redeemed. We drove by the heathens' house. You know the heathens. The father is in his undershirt drinking a Miller Lite and playing softball with the kids. Everyone is laughing and having fun. And in the car, it's miserable. Just about that time, my Dad sees the heathens. "Look at those heathens out there; they don't know the joy of Jesus." My brothers and I made a commitment in the backseat of our car that we would be heathens when we grew up. They seemed to be the only ones having fun. It didn't get any better when we arrived at church. It seemed like someone was always disciplining me for running in God's house or even His yard.
One Sunday our family decided to get up thirty minutes early for church to lighten the stress. We were ready for church early and no one knew what to do. It had never happened before in our family and probably never happened in the history of Christendom.
By contrast, Jesus had fun. The first public event He went to was a party (wedding feast at Cana). He didn't share the four spiritual laws with anyone; He just had fun. My kids are grown, and we talk about what they remember as children. They didn't remember a single sermon I preached, although I preached some good ones. What they do remember is that we had fun.
This month many will be at the Southern Baptist Convention. When I was growing up, that was our vacation (now you know why I don't like deacons and personnel committees). The only convention I remember is the one in Florida, because one day we went to the beach. That one beach trip probably kept me from becoming a heathen. This year at the convention have some fun with your family. If you are a legalist come early or stay late, and if it's your vacation, plan on having fun the whole time. It may just keep your kids from becoming heathens.