5 “The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them.
6 “And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” Matthew 11:5,6 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
One night when my boys were in grade school, the supper table was too quiet for my liking. I decided I’d “stir the pot a bit” to see if I could get a rousing discussion (or an argument) started with the boys and Susan. I began by making this announcement:
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. If anything every happened to Mom — God forbid — we would never have anything good to eat for supper ever again. In that case, maybe I could marry one of the women off The Food Network. Nigella Lawson seems like a very nice lady, and she’s a widow now. Or, Rachel Ray is single, and she can cook a 30-minute meal. What do you think?”
Now, I have to tell you, the other residents of my house have grown so accustomed to my ever-present sense of humor that they sometimes ignore my attempts to provide entertainment. But to my great surprise, everyone at the table “took the bait.” Both boys chimed in and said, “Dad, that seems like a great idea. I’ve seen those shows on television, and they always make me hungry. We would miss Mom, but at least we would always have good food to eat.”
The biggest shocker of all was that my lovely wife agreed with the idea! Susan said, “For Dad to marry a cook from the Food Network is the best idea I’ve heard lately. If I couldn’t be here with you, at least I would know that the boys had tasty and nutritious meals.”
But, alas, as she continued, I realized there was going to be a catch. “I definitely want him to marry a Food Network lady” she said. “But he can’t marry Nigella. And he can’t marry Rachel Ray. If he’s going to have a new wife from the Food Network, he only has two choices. He can either marry Jennifer or Clarissa from the show ‘Two Fat Ladies‘!”
Isn’t it wonderful when people take a joke in the spirit in which you meant it? I’ll bet that when some of you heard the beginning of this story you thought, “Uh oh, Susan is about to get mad, and Brother John is about to wind up sleeping on the couch.” But it didn’t turn out that way — because Susan didn’t take offense at my joke. She has learned two of the most important lessons that Christian people can learn.
First, when people say something that stings a bit, they’re not always trying to offend you. They might be teasing you, or they may not mean things the way they came out.
Secondly, even when folks say things that are truly unkind, you still don’t have to take offense. You always decide if you’ll be offended or not. The choice is up to you.
My wife’s tendency to put the best possible “spin” on whatever I say is one of the qualities I like most. It’s one of the many reasons I’m still in love with her after 26 ½ years of marriage and why I want her for my Valentine (and not any of those Food Network gals.) Besides, bacon-grease and motorcycle-sidecars make me queasy. 🙂
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 26 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he has a desk-job at a public school and teaches Latin on closed-circuit-television.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher and his family like to watch “Restaurant Impossible” with Robert Irvine on Food Network each week .) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.