This month the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly will celebrate our seventh anniversary as homeowners. I know what you're thinking, and we could not believe it ourselves.
In 30 years of marital bliss, (not to mention the few weeks of me being in the doghouse) we have not lived anywhere for five consecutive years. This is quite a record for us, and one we intend to break each and every year henceforth.
Being a pastor necessitates moving every few years. According to some statistics, the average length of a pastor's stay in a church is 18 months. This, to me, does not seem like a long enough time, except those rare churches that can make 18 months seem like an eternity, along with other descriptive adjectives I despair of using right now.
Although we have been in our present house for seven years, we still have not unpacked all our boxes. There is a sacred and infallible rule in parsonage life; when the last box is unpacked, it is time to move.
My spouse takes this rule quite seriously and has threatened bodily harm to Yours Truly if I go near the Last Unpacked Box in our garage. We do not even know what it contains, but why flirt with infallibility, not to mention bodily harm.
For this auspicious milestone in our life, we decided to go out and celebrate this wonderful event. I checked the parsonage exchequer and discovered we had just enough money to go to McDonald's and share a happy meal.
"Where did all our money go?" my better half demanded. The tone of her voice insinuated some kind of misappropriation of funds in my general direction.
As we munched on our happy meal and fought over the last French fry, it began to dawn on me why the shortfall in our funds. We were homeowners and as such, we have obligations.
When we first purchased our home, I naively thought I was the Master of my home (second only to the Mistress of the Parsonage, of course).
My idea of Master was a little different from what it actually turned out to be. Instead of being master, I have become the slave of my home. This was an appalling discovery I am still not quite over.
To clarify the issue in my mind, I decided to make a list with two columns. One column for what my house does for me and the second column for what I do for my house.
It is a good thing I am a gentleman or the whole thing would have made me spittin' mad. I needed 17 sheets of paper for the second column and only one for the first.
Let me say right here and now for the record; it ain't fair. For example, each and every month of my life I must pay the mortgage on this castle of mine.
Just once I would like my house to say, "I'll pay August's mortgage for you." Just once would make me happy.
When I am writing the monthly mortgage check, my house keeps as silent as a church member at a prayer meeting. Nothing, nada, nyet!
I also pay the insurance on the house. I pay for all the repairs, whether I want to or not, plus the utilities. What I want to know is, what in the world does my house do with all that electricity each month?
More than once, while mowing the grass, I have felt my house sneer at me in the most fiendish fashion. I pretend not to notice but I do.
I'd throw a rock but I would only have to pay for the broken window out of my exhausted checkbook.
I have suspicions that my house and backyard are conspiring against me. If I have plenty of time, or maybe a day off, the back yard does not need mowing.
On the other hand, if I am pressed for time, the back yard can grow 17 inches each night for three nights in a row.
This conspiracy theory has solid reasons behind it.
My domicile, despite all I do for it, is deliberately trying to drive me crazy. My wife believes it has already achieved its objective.
In the middle of the night, for example, my house makes weird, eerie noises just to get me out of my warm bed.
Just as I am about to drift into la-la land, I heard a noise. Actually, I should correct myself. The Mistress of the house hears all these noises. I couldn't hear an elephant break- dancing in the living room.
"Honey," she will whisper into my good ear. "I heard a noise. There's someone in our house."
Then, with all the seriousness of someone not delusional, she says, "It may be a serial killer, go check it out."
As a dutiful husband, I get up and check out the noise. I have yet to find anything, but I have felt the house snicker - a sick, pathetic giggle.
With all I do for my house, would it be too much for my house to say, "Thanks," just once?
In spite of all the problems with my present home, I have a home awaiting me that is simply out of this world.
Jesus gave this promise, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." (John 14:1-3 KJV.)
I am looking forward to that "mansion over the hilltop" where Jesus Christ, the "author and finisher of our faith," has met all the obligations.