Recently, while reviewing my schedule, I discovered I had not had a day off for several weeks. You know what they say; “All work and no day off makes the pastor very long-winded in the pulpit.”
This past week I decided to remedied my truancy, take a day off and stay home.
The only problem facing me was what do I do on my day off? It had been so long I forgot what to do when I take time off.
My wife was away for the day so I decided to give her a well-deserved surprise. No, I did not leave home. (Who said that?) But I did want to do something to show my extreme appreciation for all the hard work she does around the house. So I sat out on the back porch drank my coffee and contemplated my problem.
That’s when it hit me.
When I came to, I knew what I could do for my dear wife. Since she always cleans the house, I decided I would clean the house for her. I really don’t know where I get all my great ideas. I guess it’s just a gift.
Being quite proud of myself, I set about getting organized for my day of cleaning. After all, how hard can it really be? The key, so I said to myself, to cleaning the house is organization. I began by listing everything needed to be done that day: wash the dishes, make the bed, vacuum the house, dust the furniture, wash the windows. And, since I thought I saw a basket of laundry in the bedroom, I decided to do the wash, too.
Examining my list I, I pondered what I would do in the afternoon.
After making out the list, I had to sit and take a break. Management is hard work, but I confidently believed a short rest and a delicious snack would prepare me for the work ahead. As I leisurely nibbled my snack, I chuckled inside. Boy, wasn’t my beloved going to be surprised when she came home that night?
The first thing on my list was the dishes. I looked at the dishes in the sink and my heart sank. How can two people dirty so many dishes? I figured it would take me all morning just to do all these dishes. Then a brilliant idea struck me. (I told you I have a gift for this sort of thing.)
I could stand at the sink all morning and do the dishes – Or – I could do them all at once in the bathtub! With relative ease, I took all the dishes from the sink and put them in the tub. Would you believe it? They all fit!
A dash of Mr. Bubble, some hot scalding water and I knew the dishes could wash themselves while I went to the second item on my list. I made a mental note not to reveal this to my wife. After all, she might make me do this every day.
The second item was making the bed. Nothing to it. Why do women complain about how hard housework is? I think they do this to dupe their husband into thinking they actually work in the house. Ha! Some of us know better.
The next item was vacuuming the entire house. Now, where does my wife keep that vacuum cleaner? I really did not know what it looked like. I do remember when we bought it I had to refinance our house so I knew it must be some big monster of a thing.
A two-hour search brought me to something in the hall closet that looked like it might be a vacuum cleaner. By this time, I figured the dishes had enough time to clean themselves so I drained the water from the tub. I could see, though, that there still were soapsuds on most of the dishes.
Never fear when ingenuity is near. I simply turned on the shower for about five minutes and voilá; the dishes were all rinsed clean.
Back to the living room and that new fangled vacuum cleaner. It took me quite some time to figure out how it went together. Persistence and a 16-ounce hammer got it together at last. As I looked at it, I was disappointed. I could tell some woman designed this contraption. Where was the steering wheel? And what about the gearshift? How can a man operate any machinery without these two essentials?
With undaunted determination and a long coffee break, I was going to get this done for my good wife -- or else. She deserves a break.
Plugging in this contraption was easy, but I just couldn’t turn the blasted thing on. Whoever designed it ingenuously hid the switch. I looked and looked. I pulled this and I pulled that, but nothing happened.
I noticed a small red doodad neatly concealed under the handle. It had to be the switch. (I had tried everything else.)
With a contented smile on my face, I turned on the switch. Immediately there was a tremendous roar of the vacuum motor and in seconds, the entire room was filled with a grayish fog that was getting thicker each moment.
Before long, I could not see anything in the living room.
I could hear the vacuum cleaner but I could not see it. I knew if I did not get to the cleaner and turn it off, my life as I had enjoyed it up to this point, was over.
Stumbling around in the living room, I knocked over a lamp. I couldn’t see it but I knew it had to be a lamp by the crashing noise it made when it hit the floor. As I smashed my knee on the piano bench, I voiced a few notes of my own. Then I ran into the wall -- with the good dishes on it, of course. They didn’t all break. I did manage to catch one.
Finally, I tripped over the vacuum cleaner. Unable to find the switch I grabbed the electric cord and gave it a ferocious yank.
Then everything went silent. Ah, silence, my old friend.
If only I could see the living room.
Through a thick, gray haze, I evaluated the situation and quickly came to the realization that someone was in trouble. I have been in trouble before, but this time it was serious.
When the dust settled so I could see, I examined the vacuum cleaner. Why didn’t someone tell me there were two places to connect the hose? The place I did used blows out. What’s that for? The other place, which I did not use, sucks dirt in. What kind of setup is this?
As interesting as all this was, it was not the query uppermost in my mind at the time.
Within an hour, I knew I would have the privilege of explaining the mess I had made to our home to my wife.
The truth I learned that day is that whenever a person tries to do his “own thing” it always turns to disaster.
The Bible says, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death" (Proverbs 14:12 KJV).
This can be frustrating if it were not for the wonderful words of Jesus Christ. "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me" (John 14:6 KJV).
James, you are a guaranteed day brightener! You're also an absolute classic. I literally chuckle out loud when I read your work, especially when I get one of your clever little throw in gags, like "When I came to" after being hit by a bright idea. You are clever, funny and always give us a good message to go along with it. I think your congregation are incredibly blessed to have you! With love, Deb