Honestly, I don't know what comes over me at times. Especially those times when the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is not with me. Someone should enact a law prohibiting people like me going out into the public unescorted.
The normal course of my pastoral duties takes me to the hospital. I have noticed one strange thing about hospital visitation. If I have three parishioners in the hospital, no two will be in the same hospital.
Through the years, I have tried to figure a way of getting my people to go to the same hospital the same week. That way I could get the hospital visitation taken care of in one easy trip.
Some people insist on getting sick whenever they please.
Actually, I don't mind hospital visitation. One of the amenities of hospital visitation ministry is the cafeteria. As a pastor, I get a discount at the cafeteria.
And, after all, a discount is a discount in these days of economic stringency.
Plus, if I get food poisoning, I don't have far to go for treatment. So far, (knock on wood) I've been spared such an emergency.
A short time ago, I had to visit someone in the hospital and my good wife could not go with me. Normally, I enter the hospital from the second floor.
There are two very good reasons for this. One, that is the floor where the cafeteria is located and second, as a minister I have a pass to park in the doctors' parking lot.
Although my '79 Chevy does not quite fit in with all the new Rolls and BMWs, a parking space by the cafeteria is a parking space, and my car doesn't mind - that much.
Entering on the second floor, I pass several offices. One of those offices is the payroll office.
I don't know what came over me. An idea bubbled up in my mind and caused a chuckle. I knew it was wrong. I knew better. But, at the time, it did seem funny.
Looking back in contrition, I am sorry I did it.
The door to the payroll office was ajar and I could see the young lady, all businesslike, sitting behind the desk. At the moment, I had an irresistible urge to go in.
Not having my better half with me to curb these frivolous inclinations, I was a loose cannon.
Not that I'm in any way excusing my actions. I'm just explaining. I have always believed if you have a good explanation, it somehow lessens the culpability.
I gently knocked on the door and went in.
"Good morning M'am," I greeted her.
She returned the greeting and invited me to sit down.
"What can I do for you, sir?" she quipped.
I could see by her demeanor she was a serious, as well as efficient employee and took pride in her competence. The world needs more of this kind of person.
"I did not get a paycheck this week," I exclaimed in as businesslike manner as I could muster.
"You didn't get your check," she said as though the entire world depended upon me getting that paycheck which only served to encourage me in my ploy.
"Let me see what I can do. What is your name?"
I told her as she quickly punched in my name on her keyboard. For a moment, she stared at the computer screen.
"I can't understand this."
She punched more keys on her computer then turned to me. "Give me your social, I can't seem to find your name anywhere."
I gave her my social security number, she punched it in and waited.
"I'm so sorry," she said, "I can't seem to find your name anywhere. How long have you worked here?"
"I don't work here," I said.
"No, I don't work here in the hospital."
"I thought you said you didn't get your paycheck."
At this moment, I leaned back in my chair and smiled. If I had to do this over again, and I'm not saying I will, in fact I had to promise my wife I won't, I would not smile as I did.
There are times to smile and then there are those rare times when a smile is inappropriate. This was the latter.
As proficient as this employee was, she did lack a sense of humor.
For the next several minutes, I received a lively lecture, which boiled down to: without a relationship to this hospital, I could not expect a paycheck. I was then invited, in no uncertain terms, to remove my body from her office, which I was more than happy to do.
She made other suggestions about my person, but I think it was the anger speaking and paid no attention.
I have reflected on that incident and discovered a spiritual parallel.
Some people expect to receive blessings from God but have no relationship with Him. They expect their prayers to be answered; they expect to go to heaven when they die; but they have no connection with Him.
The Apostle Paul reminds the Christian of this marvelous truth. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." (Ephesians 1:3 KJV.)
All blessings from God come only through the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus said it so plainly, " I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." (John 14:6 KJV.)
Apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, no blessings can flow from God into a person's life.