Time really flies. On August 10, 2014, I accepted the position of Senior Pastor of the Chetwynd Gospel Tabernacle. Sheila and I officially moved into the Church Parsonage on October 31. I have to say from the very beginning of this article that at this time in our lives we have never felt more comfortable or welcome or appreciated than right now. While Tumbler Ridge is our retirement home and a community that we have an insatiable love for and many, many friends, we will continue to enjoy this time in our lives where God continues to bless us. Sheila and I will work hard to carry out the simple mandate as articulated by one of our senior congregants: “Pastor George, we just want you to love us and lead us!” Wow! That’s an exciting mandate.
In our church, October is Pastor Appreciation Month. The congregation will do various things for the Pastor and his wife just to let them know that they’re loved. Almost daily I visit Tim Horton’s where I study, eat and simply meet people. Well, one of the gifts presented to me during October was a Tim Horton’s Gift Card. I loved it and used it with tender love and care because of where it came from—the congregation.
A few days before Christmas we decided on a moment’s notice to make an overnight trip to Grand Prairie to do a little shopping. My wife dragged me through thousands of square feet of shopping space just to say about a million times, “No, this is not what I’m looking for.” My response would be. “Then why are you looking at it?” Like, why take the time to look at something you’re not looking for and then go to an adjacent store to look at the same blinking thing again with the exact same response?
I can understand my wife’s mannerisms in the kitchen but after forty-five years of marriage I still cannot understand her behavior at a shopping centre. It just about brought tears to my eyes as I stood in the ladies section of Walmart while my wife was holding ladies paraphernalia in front of me only to make the weirdest statement and then asks the dumbest of questions. “Now George, your honest opinion.” “All right,” I would respond. I’m getting ticked off already with both men and women glaring at me while I stand there right in the middle of the ladies section. In giving my honest opinion I have to answer questions like, “Do you like the color? Do you think it will fit? Would another style look better?”
I feel like I’m in a very small boxing ring with about a dozen hungry German Shepherds. It doesn’t matter what I do or say; it doesn’t matter how I try to escape, I’m doomed. No answer from me will be the right answer so I try to get her to answer her own question like, “Wow! Isn’t that the color you always dreamed about?” Or, “I’m sure you wouldn’t be holding it in front of me if you didn’t think it would fit.” Never mind holding it in front of herself, she is holding this ladies clothing in front of me. And about style, “YOU have always said that you’re a very plain dresser when it comes to selecting clothes.” There, I said it. Without another word she dropped it into the shopping cart and said, “You’re right. I’ll take it.” By the time I got out of the ladies department I was saturated with sweat—cold, stinking sweat and the shopping had just begun.
I felt myself getting a little mischievous and couldn’t wait to get my wife into the men’s section, tool department of course, and have her hold a drill or a ratchet set, a carpenter’s hammer or a six foot level and ask the same dumb questions about color, size or style. I kept my perverted thinking to the deepest reaches of my mind and proceeded to endure the rest of the shopping extravaganza. By the time we got back to our friend’s house I was totally exhausted.
After settling in for a good night’s rest I suggested to my wife we rise early, grab an early breakfast at Tim Horton’s, complete our shopping and head back home. Agreed. The sleep was somewhat restless for reasons I can’t understand. Maybe I would be standing in another ladies section answering dumb questions but the day was already upon us and expediency was the new word for the day.
Quickly getting ourselves refreshed for the day we both bolted through the door and the first task at hand was to fill the hunger craving for Tim Hortons breakfast and coffee—well, coffee for me and hot chocolate for my wife. Traffic was slow and plentiful. Red lights took forever. Green lights blinked on and off like the lights on a Christmas tree, so it seemed.
“Yes,” I would think. “I’m going to make it through that green light at whatever the cost,” and then the amber light. My wife will never let me go through an amber light even for Tim’s. We finally arrive at our food haven with the smell of fresh coffee pounding the inside off my nostrils as my taste buds anticipated the wonderful warmth and flavor.
We both marched up to the counter like proud peacocks and ordered a healthy breakfast as we were greeted with broad smiles and “Good mornings!” The lovely attendant asked, “And will that be all?” “Yes,” was my quick reply. “That will be $16.85,” said the smiling attendant. It was with pride and an uncontrollable excitement that I reached for my Tim’s card and holding it up to my wife I said, “See.” She nodded.
The lovely attendant said, “Sir, that is a Tim’s card.” “Absolutely,” I said, “and there is still $47.53 left on the card. I quickly slipped my Tim’s card through the debit machine and waited for the inevitable. A strange sound caused me to look at the debit machine only to discover that my Tim’s card was rejected. I tried again with the same result. I looked at the attendant, who was now no longer smiling, and said, “I don’t understand. There is still $47.53 left on the card.”
She took the card and with some emphasis said, “It is a Tim’s card.” “I know! I know it’s a Tim’s card and there is still $47.53 left on the card.” I was now edgy, frustrated and embarrassed while my wife just stood there like a mannequin trying to anticipate what my next emotion would look like.
“I will have to take this to my manager,” and holding the infamous Tim’s card just slightly above her shoulder she disappeared behind closed doors. “Wow,” I said to my wife, “I just wanted to pay for my breakfast and for some strange security reason she might be in some back room shredding my Tim’s.”
A few seconds later (it seemed like hours, per-caffeine), the now broad-smiling attendant and her manager approached me in a mood of levity only to have the half-smiling manager say, “Sir, this is a Tim’s card.” I wanted to say, “Congratulations. Now that both you and the attendant can read, please allow me one more try to pay for my breakfast.” I kept a civil tongue and said nothing. I knew something was coming down the tubes big time and with a great burst of energy and a pitch of excitement in her voice she blurted out with great gusto so that every patron in the building could hear, “Sir, this is a Tim’s card but you have ordered your breakfast at McDonalds and Tim cards will not work at McDonalds!!!!!!!!!!”
There were immediate snickers, stares and deliberate shuffling of feet as I stood with absolutely no defense. In a very subdued voice I said, “Oh, I guess it’s cash then. Sheila do you have $20.00?” At this point in time my beautiful mannequin burst out with hysterical laughter and looking at me said, “You stunned lump!” It was Christmas and so we enjoyed the moment and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast.
I couldn’t wait to share the embarrassment of my adventure with my faithful and loyal congregation. Using it in a sermon illustration brought hysterical laughter from the “flock” and during the entire week I heard nothing about the sermon other than the Tim’s card. The following Sunday, following the sermon, an elder came forward along with a board member and wanted to bless their pastor with a gift card – they plunked a McDonalds card in my hand which was immediately followed with an uproar from the congregants.
I think I will try my McDonalds card at Canadian Tire and see what happens. Until then, remember that the sun is always shining.