Let My Laughter Resound!
“YOU BLEW ALL OF OUR PROFIT!”
Even though the church I came to pastor, when I was only 22 years of age, was a small church, with limited financial resources, I will gladly declare that the members of that church, saw to it that I received my weekly salary. Even when the ‘church dollars’ were hard to ‘stretch’, to meet all the obligations, the church board made the paying of the pastor’s salary a priority.
With my words of gratitude to this small church, for all this church did for me and for my wife (and two young daughters), I must be honest to state that my family budget was small and it was squeezed at times to a great degree. That is to say, my wife (amazing in budgeting) knew how to ‘cut corners’ to save our money.
Admittedly, there were times that she ‘splurged’ – for instance, she often purchased new Easter dresses for our two daughters. Also, usually, our family enjoyed an occasional ‘root beer’ at a ‘root beer stand’ or a ‘dairy queen’ at a ‘dairy queen stand’. We sometimes enjoyed a cafeteria meal together.
Venita became a skilled gardener. Her home cooked meals were ‘out of this world’. She developed great skills in cooking, which served her well when she often hosted in our home. When I look back at those early years in the pastorate, I am amazed that Venita could be ‘all things to all people’! She worked hard in the local church, and she was involved in a variety of tasks and projects and programs. But, with all this work, she found time to do gardening and canning!
She mentioned recently that, one year, she canned 400 quarts of food. Her canning skills, is what supplemented our food budget! When anyone would give us any type of fruit or vegetables, we were thrilled. Even though canning and freezing of fruits and vegetables involved a lot of time and effort, Venita thought it was worthwhile! After all, free fruit (like apples) or vegetables (like sweet corn) saved on our regular food budget!
There was one particular couple – rather eccentric and very special folks – who were not members of my church, but who were my personal friends. I don’t think that they had ever attended my church services during the (perhaps) 15 years that I knew them.
They were related to some folks (members) of my church, and through these members, I became acquainted with this special older couple. I know it is hard to believe, but it is true: This older couple expected me to come to their simple home, once a month, to collect their ‘tithe’! Yes, I said ‘tithe’! Consistently, without fail, they had their ‘tithe’ ready for me, when I knocked on their door.
Their house was a rather ‘humble’ and ‘modest’ and ‘old-fashioned’ dwelling, but I always felt ‘at home’ in their ‘cozy dwelling’. They liked me a lot, and they were always so friendly to me. They were ‘old-fashioned’, but, on the other hand, they were ‘up-to-date’ in many things. They had five grown children, and I had acquaintance with three of those children – very bright children!
This outgoing (conversant) older couple was very generous in their lifestyle. They not only were faithful in tithing, but they were glad when they could give other things to their friends and their relatives.
Their modest house – old-fashioned house – was located in an older part of the city, and the lot their house was set upon included about an acre of land. In back of their house was a small forest of apple trees – old trees but trees nevertheless that produced abundance of apples. Most of the apple trees were very tall, and, to pick those lush apples at the top of these trees, involved climbing with the use of a tall ladder.
This couple, more than one year, in the beauty of their Fall backyard, told me to ‘help myself’ to as many apples as I could use. Of course, I would have to ‘work’ for the apples, for most of the apples (still unpicked) were at the top of those trees!
I accepted the ‘challenge’ of picking these beautiful apples, and I thanked them for their generosity in allowing me to have the apples at no cost to me. Of course, it took a considerable amount of time to complete this ‘worthy task’. I felt so free when I was at the top of the apple trees, and I was so excited that my dear wife would have additional fruit – boxes of free apples – to can or to freeze and to use to make her delicious apple pies!
But the ‘balloon of my excitement’ was soon to be busted! My excitement in getting ‘free apples’ was soon to turn to disappointment and even to ‘anger’! And it would all be my ‘fault’!
As I was traveling along on that main road that is just north of the house where this couple lived, I soon came to the ‘school district zone’ (close to a public school), and soon I found a car behind me that, when I looked at my ‘rear view mirror’, was not a welcome sight. The policeman had a ‘right’ to stop me, for I was going beyond the speed limit, in that particular school zone! I was given a ‘ticket’ (for speeding), and I think it was (for that long-ago time) a rather ‘steep fine’!
When I arrived at my home, and when I displayed the abundance of freshly-picked apples – apples and more apples – beautiful apples and more beautiful apples – my wife was so delighted! Such generosity on the part of my older friends! And I worked so hard to retrieve those lush apples at the top of those tall trees! How excited my wife was that, now, she had many apples which would fill many quart jars! Everyone knows (or should know) that the ‘canning process’ takes lots of time, and is lots of work! But it is all worthwhile, especially when it is ‘free apples’ that are going into the jars! These apples would be the ‘pride and joy’ of my wife, when she would soon view these apples after they had been canned in beautiful quart jars – for use during a long winter!
How can excitement be turned to disappointment ‘at the drop of a hat’, or, should I say, at the heaviness of a gas pedal in a car! I dreaded to tell my wife that, because of my thoughtless driving, just a short distance from the home of my older friends, I took away all the profit that would have come from enjoying (canning) these free apples! I (and my wife) had to face the harsh reality – what we ‘gained’ in having the ‘free apples’, we suddenly ‘lost’ in the cost of the traffic ticket!
As my wife was canning those ‘beautiful apples’, she was realizing that she was not ‘gaining’ anything – even though the apples were given to us! Also, I had to realize that the excitement I experienced while I was working hard to retrieve the apples at the top of the trees, that that excitement was suddenly turned to disappointment! So much for free apples, when I was (justly) stopped by a patrolman – a patrolman who was carefully watching for thoughtless drivers just like me!
Is this episode – free apples, a traffic ticket, canning the apples with both gratitude and with disappointment – I say, is this episode worthy of disappointment or of laughter, ‘or of both’? Can ‘implicit laughter’ be found within the ‘elements’ (details) of this event?
“Biblical Foundation For The Sanctity Of Human Life!”