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OUT TO PASTOR: To ask or not ask is no option

You would think I would have learned all I needed to learn at my age. However, each day I learn something I did not know the day before.

So much of my new learning is still connected to being married to The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage.

I know, for example, that she is not soliciting information when she asks a question. So many times, I forget and walk into that trap.

Last week, for instance, The Gracious of the Parsonage looked out the living room window and sighed very deeply and then looking at me said, “Why is it so hot out there today?”

Under normal circumstances, I would have realized this was not a question to be answered. But, without thinking, I looked at her and said, “It's Florida, and it’s the middle of the summer, and that's why it’s so hot out there.”

I then put on one of my typical smiles, and winked at her.

Not a good thing to do in this situation.

“Do you think that is funny?” she said with both hands on her hips and staring at me.

I then remembered that a woman asking you questions is not soliciting an answer. If only I could remember that, I could keep myself out of a lot of difficulties.

“I know it’s summer, and I know we’re in Florida, but I wasn’t asking for your opinion.”

Recently we had an appointment across town, so my wife drove, and I sat in the passenger side. The traffic was heavy, and people were driving rather crazy. At one intersection, a car almost ran into us, and on my part, I lost all my heebie-jeebies.

My wife said, “What is wrong with people today? Why are they so crazy?”

I cleared my throat, and then she looked at me and said, “That was not a question I want you to answer. So keep your opinion to yourself.”

I looked out the window and started to chuckle. I did not realize I was chuckling; it just came naturally.

“What are you chuckling about?” she said.

Now I am in one of those marital dilemmas. Is she asking a question she wants me to answer, or did she set me up?

I spoke up and said, “Look over there. Is that a Hobby Lobby?”

The atmosphere in the vehicle changed automatically. She looked in my direction and asked me a question I knew she wanted me to answer, “Where’s the Hobby Lobby?”

Sometimes when you answer a question with a question you get completely out of the swamp you are sinking in.

For the next several minutes, she talked about why she wanted to visit Hobby Lobby and all the things she wanted to check on and maybe even purchase. So I just sat back in my seat and smiled, knowing I had missed the bombshell that time.

When the vehicle atmosphere got quiet, I knew I had to do something to diverge the energy, so I simply said, “Is that a new thrift store? I don’t think I’ve ever seen that one before.”

Well, the conversation focused on the thrift store, and I learned everything there was to know about that thrift store and all of the stuff she bought there in the past. And even her plans to go and pick up some other items there.

She could not say enough good about that thrift store, and the more she talked about it, the more she smiled. I had accomplished my goal, and I was smiling on the outside now. The rest of the trip home was enjoyable.

Before we got home, she said, “I could go for some ice cream. Should we stop and get some ice cream?”

I just looked at her, smiled and shook my head. We then stopped, got some ice cream, and had a wonderful time there.

“Wasn’t that,” she said as we started back home, “the best ice cream we’ve had in a long time.”

“Yes, my dear,” I said as cheerfully as possible, “that was a good idea you had to get some ice cream.”

The trip ended well because I am learning to negotiate what is a question and what is not a question. But, you know I still have a long way to go, at least I am progressing.

This led me to a verse of scripture in 1 John 5:14 - “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us”

I am also learning what to ask and what not to ask when it comes to my relationship with God. Learning what questions God will answer goes a long way in my Christian experience and it saves me a lot of time. Most of my prayer time, up until now, has been wasted asking the wrong questions.

Dr. James L. Snyder lives in Ocala, FL with the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Telephone (352) 216-3025, e-mail, website

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