Last week my wife and I celebrated our eighth anniversary as homeowners. I know what you're thinking, and we could not believe it ourselves.
In the 32 years of marital bliss (not to mention a 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 we fully intend to break it each and every year henceforth.
Although we have been in our present house for eight years, we still have not unpacked all our boxes. There is a sacred and infallible rule in parsonage life; when you unpack the last box, it is time to move. The Mistress of my Parsonage 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 who wants to flirt with infallibility, not to mention bodily harm.
For this auspicious observation, 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 the reason for the short fall in our funds. We are 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. Instead of being Master, I have turned into the SLAVE of my home. This appalling discovery still has me a little dazed, not to mention broke.
To clarify in my mind the issue, 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'm 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 that monthly 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.
Then there is the utility bill. What 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 unearthly 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.
I suspect my house and the backyard are conspiring against me. If I have plenty of time or maybe a day off, the backyard does not need to be mowed. On the other hand, if I am pressed for time, the back yard can grow 17 inches in a night for three nights in a row.
This conspiracy theory has solid reasons behind it. My domicile, regardless of 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 hear a noise. Actually, I should correct that. 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." And 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, slightly senile, I get up and check out the noise. I have yet to find anything, but I have felt the house snicker.
Would it be too much for my house to say "Thanks" just once? After eight years, I have discovered that a man's home is his hassle.
In spite of all the problems with my present home, there is 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 all the obligations have been met by Jesus Christ, the "author and finisher of our faith."
James, as always, this was a pleasure and treat to read. I agree with you, these ungrateful houses do indeed seem to constantly keep coming up with ways to use our money or make us work (It's our shower at the moment - groan!) But when push comes to shove, it is all worth it. I loved your message. With love, Deb