AND THEN CAME THE GRANDCHILDREN
by James Snyder
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It was a busy week at the parsonage. As a minister, I often find myself surrounded with a hectic schedule. Between fleecing the sheep and wool-gathering, I have all I can handle some weeks.
There is always something to do around the church to keep the minister busy. One thing I have learned in my long years of being a pastor is that when the chips are down, the buffalo can't be too far ahead.
An important occupation of the minister is visiting the sick. This week I had to stop in to see Agnes - again. Agnes is a full-fledged hypochondriac.
If anybody mentions an illness, she immediately has the symptoms, and her case is usually "the worse my doctor has ever seen." Her greatest fear in life is meeting someone with an illness she never had.
It is not that I dislike visiting Agnes; it's just that I weary of hearing about her imagined illnesses, especially when so many people are really sick and need attention.
I put it off as long as I could without raising her suspicions. And then on Thursday afternoon, on my way home, I set my face like a flint and went off to Agnes' home.
I found her in rare form that day. She had a disease but could not remember its name and I sure was not any help.
It would not do, but Agnes had to describe her symptoms to me in great detail with the high hopes of my being able to identify this rare disease. After all, how could she profit from a malady if she could not tell people what she had?
Of all the delights in my ministry, this has to be at the very bottom, along with sticking a sewing needle in my left eye.
I had given Agnes' problem much thought through the years. I wanted to come up with a solution to the problem and end this ridiculous charade once and for all.
But nothing I said ever made the least impression on her. Even her doctor, who knew her for years, gave up trying to convince her that she was healthy.
"Well," Agnes once said to her doctor, in a huff, "if you can't find something wrong with me I guess I will go to a doctor who can." From the tone of her voice, the doctor knew she meant business.
He feared Agnes might be taken advantage of if she went to another doctor who did not know her. So, he treated her with sugar pills for every ailment Agnes could dream up.
Agnes loved taking medicine of all kinds, and particularly enjoyed taking it with an audience.
The doctor and I worked together on this and at times I even drove Agnes to her appointments.
Some people are not happy unless they are miserable, which would not be too bad if they would not share their misery with others, specifically me.
While visiting Agnes, I was overwhelmed with a tremendous temptation. Some temptations a person can handle without too much difficulty and dismiss them out of mind.
Then, there are those tantalizing moments requiring superhuman effort to resist. I faced such a moment with Agnes.
Listening to her latest litany of ailments, a terrible thought gripped my mind. It was all I could do to keep from telling Agnes about Henry's upcoming prostate surgery.
I know what you are thinking, but after all, I'm only human.
My entire week ran like this. By Friday I was bushed and looking forward to a quiet, relaxing evening at home with the Mistress of the Parsonage. Together we would luxuriate in the delights of a quiet evening repast.
When I got home Friday afternoon my wife greeted me with, "Did you remember that the grandchildren will be spending the night with us?" Oh, boy. I had forgotten.
The thought of the grandchildren brought a smile to my weary face. Nothing in the world can change the plans for a quiet evening at home like two grandchildren.
We do not call them "grand" for nothing.
"When will they get here?" I asked, trying to figure out how much time I had to shower and get ready for the invasion.
Grandchildren are God's way of reminding us just how old we really are.
It is a shame He wastes all that energy on children. I could use a little extra energy right about now.
If the grandchildren are coming for supper that means one thing: macaroni and cheese, and a hot dog with a generous side of pickles.
While still in my quiet muse, the front doorbell rang once and then the door exploded with excited greetings as both grandchildren told me that they had come to spend the night."
Spending the night at grandma and grandpa's house is one of the great adventures in a young child's life. No child should ever grow up without this crucial rite of passage.
For one thing, the rules are different. Nobody has to finish everything on the plate (especially the broccoli) and candy is a given.
While eating, I thought about what to do after supper. How would we entertain the children?
Then it occurred to me. The perfect solution for our evening's entertainment was a special video movie from my library.
I thought they were old enough to see this exceptional movie. After all, four- and six-year-olds are a lot more mature these days and can handle the heavy-duty stuff.
Today, many videos are not fit to watch as a family. At least not something I want to sit and watch with my grandchildren. But this movie would be the perfect choice.
Grandma rustled up some popcorn while I got the movie ready. I know I do not have to tell you the title of this movie, but for those who might be experiencing a "senior moment" let me tell you.
The one, the only choice of the evening was "Old Yeller."
If anything can bridge the generation gap, it is "Old Yeller." For the 84 minutes of that movie, we were all glued to the screen.
The little ones were experiencing this classic for the first time as the older ones were remembering the magic from days long gone.
How wonderful to see my grandchildren enjoy their first experience of something that has been special to me for many years.
Few experiences rise above the infamous generation gap. One such experience is spiritual.
The Apostle Paul recognized this in Timothy. "And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus." (2 Timothy 3:15 KJV.)
A personal experience with Jesus Christ is the experience of a lifetime, and beyond.
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