By Dr. James L. Snyder
I have never been in serious trouble except with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. I must have gotten in trouble with my parents when I was young, but I am too old now to remember that. The great thing about getting old is having a selective memory.
Now, the only trouble I get into is with her. And trust me; I have had my moments of trouble with her and can remember every one.
We were getting ready to visit our son and his family for a week. Four of our grandchildren live with my son and his wife.
Grandchildren are God's way of apologizing for children. When you have children, you are too young and busy to know what to do with them. At the grandfather stage, it is a different story altogether. I now have the experience and the time to spend with these grandchildren.
Half of my grandchildren live here in Florida and the other half lives in Ohio. It would be great if I could spend half of my time in Florida and the other half in Ohio, but nobody has bought into that suggestion, and by "nobody" I'm referencing my children.
Grandmothers have a positive influence on their grandchildren. Grandmothers teach the grandchildren many nice things. My wife always has a craft party when she gets together with the grandchildren. They are so excited to see her and so eager for the next craft she has prepared for them.
Therefore, it is always a great pleasure to set aside a week and spend with the grandchildren up in Ohio.
As we were packing to head for the airport to catch our plane for Ohio, my wife looked at me with one of "those looks," and said rather sternly, "Do you think you can behave yourself this time?"
Honestly, I am not sure what the phrase "behave yourself" really means. As far as I know, and my memory does not go back too far, I have never behaved like anybody else. After all, I am not an actor. I can "act up," but I cannot act.
I looked at her rather meekly, well, as meekly as I could look and said rather frankly, "I will behave like nobody else."
"No," she said, "you must promise me that you're going to behave yourself on this trip to Ohio."
I remember another promise I made to her around 44 years ago when I said, "I do." That promise carried on for 44 years and now she wants another promise? Isn't one promise enough for her?
Then she said, "Do you remember the last time we were up in Ohio? Do you remember the trouble you got into then?"
I did, and it was difficult for me not to laugh out loud. I must confess I laughed on the inside, but was trying to "behave myself," whatever that meant.
The last time we were in Ohio, I took all the grandkids out for supper at a restaurant. It is always good to get together on neutral territory. Because, on neutral territory I can really behave like myself and no other.
We were in the middle of supper when casually I picked up my straw. Now, when I am at home my wife forbids me even to have a straw because she knows what a temptation a straw is for me.
However, these grandchildren needed to be instructed on the proper use of a straw. A straw is not just to drink your soda. It has other more ambitious functions.
Casually, I put a little wad of paper in my straw; nonchalantly put the straw to my mouth and one little puff and that wad of paper hit one grandchild in the face.
At first, they did not know what had happened. I looked the other way as though I did not know what had happened. The grandchild said, "Who did this?"
Confession may be good for the soul, but it is also good for the turmoil. I acknowledged it was me and immediately a very aggressive spitball fight ensued right there in the restaurant, no straws barred. After all, grandchildren need to know the level of fun a person can have, especially with a straw.
Glancing over at my wife at the time, I saw her glaring at me with one of "those looks" and I knew I was in trouble. Since I was already in trouble, it could not get any worse, so we exhilarated the spitball battle and by the time we were ready to leave, spitballs were all over the floor like snow on a winter day.
I think that was what my wife was thinking of when she asked me to remember the last time we were in Ohio.
Looking at my wife, I smiled with one of those freaky little twinkles in my eye, and said, "I will behave just like myself and no other while in Ohio."
I'm not sure, Paul may have had this in mind when he wrote, "These things write I unto thee, hoping to come unto thee shortly: But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:14-15).
I always mean to behave myself, but often there are too many other options.
Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. His web site is www.jamessnyderministries.com