I Always Aim to Please but Sometimes I Miss

by James L. Snyder

I Always Aim to Please

Through the years of pastoral ministry I have tried adapting to people in every way possible. As a young pastor I served churches that operated on a tight budget. To make the expense money stretch, I often stayed in private homes. On the whole, these have been most pleasant experiences.

I say on the whole, because there have been those rare occasions when, try as I might, the situation was less than perfectly desirable.

One such occasion sticks in my mind. Usually the hostess provided breakfast and supper. For some strange reason, of which I still cannot fathom, this hostess loved spinach. Now, there are only a few things in life I detest: I hate the sight of blood, my own in particular; I abhor professional wrestling; and I loathe spinach.

But my dear hostess loved spinach and used it in every recipe. In her area she was famous for her spinach recipes. She could not imagine any of God's creatures not sharing her affection for the weed (pardon my French).

She served spinach in every known form at every meal. I had scrambled spinach, fried spinach, poached spinach-and that was just the first morning's breakfast. Supper brought out a new variety of loathsome spinach recipes and culinary concoctions.

By Thursday supper time I could not stand to look at another spinach dish. Every part of me looked green; and not with envy.

I must say in my own defense, I had braved the situation up to that point.. I ate everything she set before me and even congratulated her on her culinary skills. In retrospect, this only egged her on, but I was the one who ended with egg on my face.

However, Thursday evening proved too much for me. She made a spinach souffle! It was the most disgusting looking and smelling concoction I had ever seen, and I grew up in the country. I knew I could not look at this one more time, let alone eat it.

I looked at the generous helping of spinach souffle on my plate and knew in my heart of hearts, I could not keep it down. I prayed silently and God answered. I saw a window of opportunity.

Just behind me I happened to notice a window. So far so good. Now, the only problem was getting the hostess from the table long enough for my plan to work.

I prayed and God answered, again.

The telephone rang and my dear hostess excused herself from the table to answer it. My window of opportunity was wide open, or so I thought.

Have you ever noticed, some plans seem flawless, until you actually use them? When the good hostess returned to the dinning room, she caught me frantically scraping her wonderful spinach souffle off the screen in the window.

I had a hard time explaining just how it got there!

Not only meals, but sleeping accommodations can be tricky. At one conference I attended my host family lived on a farm. Believe me, I had no complaints about the food. There is nothing quite like good country cooking. Where I come from, they have a quaint saying: "Kissin' don't last, cooking does."

My first night there everything went fine until bedtime came. They informed me I would share the sleeping accommodations with Timmy their 8-year-old-son.

I climbed into an old-fashioned bed and just as I was about to turn off the light, Timmy sprang out of bed and knelt by his side of the bed.

It disturbed me at first. As a minister I should be a better role model to the young folks. I felt ashamed and to encourage little Timmy in his devotional life, I too climbed out of bed and knelt by my side.

"Mama's gonna kill you, preacher!" I heard Timmy say.

"What?"

"Mama's gonna kill you in the morning. The chamber pot's on this side of the bed."