Having a good time may not be the highest priority in life but it sure beats hitting your thumb with a hammer. Sometimes, try as we might, having a good time is an elusive dream.
Recently, I and some good friends from our congregation developed a very highly sophisticated plan with the main objective of having a good time. Even my two daughters, my son and his family from Ohio got in on the plan. In fact, the only person not in on the plan was the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. With great deliberation, she was excluded from all of the planning. Excluding her from something either in the congregation or in the family takes a miracle in par with walking on water.
Normally, I do not like excluding people from having a good time and yet there comes a time when such action is in the best interest of everybody involved. The basic plan was a surprise birthday party for my wife. She was celebrating a milestone in her life and we wanted to make sure it would be one she would remember for a long time.
There is nothing in our church or family of which she is not at the very center of the planning and preparation. Excluding her would take all of the deviousness of my children, our entire congregation and me. I never thought we could pull it off but I had underestimated the deviousness of my family and congregation.
The success of this plan depended upon the ability of everyone involved to lie through their teeth. Fortunately, everybody had teeth to lie through, either their own or ones purchased through some dental program.
The basic ruse that we used was a retirement party for one of the men in the congregation. If we tried planning a party without involving my wife, it would have been a disaster. She has a nose that can smell something five months away. So, it was a retirement party in full swing and for the last few weeks, all anybody talked about was the alleged retirement party.
For a month leading up to the party my wife kept asking me, "What do you get someone who is retiring?" She never suspected a thing and the surprise element was at the top of our game. The reason it was so successful is that all of us were pretty good liars.
For example, the day before the party, I had to sneak to Tampa, which is about two hours away, then sneak back into town my son and his family without arousing the suspicion of you know who.
"What do you have planned for today?" my wife queried that morning.
"Oh," I stammered trying to be very careful with my wording, "I've got to go downtown and pay some bills."
"Will you be home for lunch?"
"No, I have a lot to do; I'll catch a bite of lunch downtown."
That was the end of it. Fortunately, it was a busy week for both of us and we were pretty much going in separate directions. It took two hours to drive to the Tampa airport, two hours back and one hour fooling around so the whole trip would take five hours.
Halfway back from the airport my cell phone rang and it was my wife checking up on me.
"Where are you now?" She asked.
Lying is a very difficult thing to do. I never knew just how hard it was before, because when you tell one lie, it takes a half a dozen other lies to support the first lie.
Being a novice at this I simply said, "I'm finishing up my errands and will soon be home." All the time I am trying to keep four little children in the back seat quiet, so they would not spoil the surprise. When I hung up the cell phone, I sighed a deep sigh promising myself I would never lie again. It is just too plain hard to lie.
I successfully smuggled my son and his family into town and got them settled in their accommodations so that nobody would know they were in town. By nobody, I had only one person in mind. My two daughters knew about this and were eager, too eager, to help in the deception. I am wondering where they learned to lie so.
On the way from the Tampa airport, the grandchildren in the back seat did so many hilarious things that it was all I could do to keep from telling my wife about their antics while we were eating supper that night.
Finally, the time arrived for my wife and me to go to the "retirement party." I was never so anxious for a party to begin than this one. As soon as we opened the door everybody yelled, "Surprise, surprise and happy birthday."
She sure was surprised. But that was only the first surprise.
About a half-hour later, our son and his family from Ohio just happened to come through the front door and surprise her again.
This began a very delightful weekend celebrating someone's birthday.
After everything was over, I turned to my Bible and read, "Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16 KJV).
Everyone has faults and confession is the only way to have a good time.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship,