Read Philippians 4:4-7.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (v. 4)
As Johnny Vaught once put it, “Laughter is part of the Mississippi mystique.” He had the stories to prove it.
For instance, during preparations for the 1961 Sugar Bowl (a 14-6 defeat of Rice), second-string halfback Frank Halbert told Vaught that his folks wanted to be in New Orleans when the team arrived. So he asked the head coach, “What time are we going to get there?” Vaught hadn’t named the traveling squad, so he glared hard at Halbert and asked, ‘What do you mean, we?” “Well, coach,” Halbert replied, “you are going too, aren’t you?” After Vaught quit laughing, he put Halbert on the traveling squad.
A locker room ritual that always elicited a whole lot of smiles and laughter involved longtime team physician Ferrell “Doc” Varner, a charter member of the Ole Miss Athletics Hall of Fame. The players developed a rather unique way of celebrating Varner’s birthday each year: They gave him money — usually $100 or so — and threw him into the whirlpool. Naturally, this was a noisy, joyous ritual.
You would think Varner appreciated the money but didn’t too much care for the dousing. One year, though, the players gave him the cash but forget about the bath. So Varner spent a few minutes stomping around the locker room muttering until the players remembered. They promptly threw him into the water.
The players once pulled a memorable joke on their coach, who admitted he had to be firm and fair but didn’t believe in starched collars. In El Paso for the ‘67 Sun Bowl, Vaught was about to speak at a luncheon when a woman wearing a gown “with a low neck that fairly well exposed her” ran up to him and declared loudly that he had left his game notes in her room the night before. As the room — especially the players — roared with laughter, the coach quickly realized he had been had.
What does your smile say about you? What is it that makes you smile and laugh in the first place? Your dad’s corny jokes? Don Knotts as Barney Fife? Your children or grandchildren? Your pal’s bad imitations? Do you hoard your smile or do you give it away easily even when you’ve had some tough times?
When you smile, the ones who love you and whom you love can’t help but return the favor — and the joy. It’s like turning on a bright light in a world threatened by darkness. Besides, you have good reason to walk around all the time with a smile on your face not because of something you have done but rather because of one basic, unswerving truth: God loves you.
As a result of his great love for you, God acted through Jesus to give you free and eternal salvation. That should certainly make you smile.
A laugh is better than a fistfight when competition for a starting slot is fierce or a game is close. — Johnny Vaught
It’s so overused it’s become a cliché, but it’s true nevertheless: Smile! God loves you.