Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960


By Dr. James L. Snyder
Contributing Writer 

It was a Charles Dickens kind of year


While many people are out on a shopping spree to liquidate any cash reserves they might have left, I am taking this time to do a little bit of reflection.

Shopping is not my favorite thing to do. I forgot about it last week and Thursday evening I took my granddaughter to Wal-Mart to buy something. The aisles were packed with people standing around waiting for some “event” to occur. Not knowing what that event might be, my little granddaughter and I slowly retreated from the store. I forgot it was black Thursday and I did not want to end up with a black eye.

I do not go shopping that much, but, is it me or are shoppers mean people? Just do not get between them and whatever event is taking place.

I have come to the wonderful place in life that I can afford anything I want. Fortunately, I cannot think of anything I really want. Not so with the crowd I found at Wal-Mart. They wanted something really bad, and I wanted to get out of the store really bad. Both got their wishes.

I have since retreated to the solitude of my easy chair. Thanksgiving dinner is over, everybody’s focus is on Christmas and so I plan to take advantage of this space. Everybody is somewhere and I am glad (you did not hear me say it) they are not here.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage is in the kitchen doing whatever she does in the kitchen. I have learned after 43 years of marital bliss that if I want to maintain the bliss in my marriage I need to keep out of the kitchen when someone else is there, especially her. I have learned to live with this and it is a wonderful life.

Resting and reflecting in my easy chair, I began thinking about the past year.

The best way to sum up the past year for me was Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

Of course, I would have to fudge a little bit on “the age of wisdom.” Outside of that, that sums up my past year very nicely. Just when you think everything is going smoothly, there is a little unexpected bump in the road.

The other way around is also true. Just when you think all you have are bumps in the road, you hit a smooth patch and you do not really know what to do.

Take this Thanksgiving for example. Throughout the year I had managed (under some very strict supervision from you know who) to lose around 5 pounds. I was celebrating this loss quite jubilantly. That is, until the Thanksgiving dinner.

I thought to myself, “Self, you have done a fine job this past year it is time to celebrate.”

There is celebration and then there is celebration. My problem is I do not know the difference between the two; they all look alike to me.

Hiding behind the roast turkey on our Thanksgiving dinner table were the 5 pounds I had lost during the year. They quite conveniently hid their presence from me but that was not the worst of it. Not only were they hiding behind the roast turkey, but also they had assembled relatives. For some reason these “pounds” heard that relatives were invited to the Thanksgiving dinner.

I do not know how it happened; but it happened. The “pounds” I lost, I have found and they brought relatives with them. I am not sure I want to complain at this point because I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

Here I sit in my easy chair bemoaning the fact that what I lost I eventually found. If only I could find the hundred dollars I lost, I would be a happy camper. At least, I could afford to be a camper.

Everybody should rejoice when they find something that they lost, but I am too stuffed now to really rejoice. I feel a little nap coming on.

This past year I received an unexpected royalty check from my publisher and truly rejoiced in it. It is always nice to get something you were not expecting.

The following week I had to replace the transmission in a vehicle.

I know, I should be grateful I had the money so I could do the maintenance work on the vehicle. I am, kind of, sort of, but it would have been nice to have the money and not have to use it. Then, what in the world is money for?

This whole year has been like that. I get happy about something I lost and then I find it. I get happy about something I found and then I lose it.

This year my “age of wisdom” was soundly outmaneuvered by my “age of foolishness.”

As I reflected on this I thought about what the apostle Paul said. “For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19).

I have come to the point where I believe that “the worst of times” is designed by God to show me how wonderful “the best of times” are. I rest on the marvelous truth that my life is not in “the times” but in the gracious hand of God.

Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, PO Box 831313, Ocala, FL 34483. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 1-866-552-2543 or e-mail His web site is


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