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In the same month of August, these two things happened to me: I paid $239 to a New Jersey court for the dubious pleasure of holding my cell phone in hand while driving in plain sight of a cruiser. Second, a Korean woman I don’t even remember who knew my late husband and happened to dine with a distant acquaintance, asked said acquaintance about me, and ended up writing me a check for $200.
So it was kind of a wash, financially speaking.
If you are of a mind to do any thinking about God’s working in your life, what conclusion would you draw? Partly that depends on where you put the “but” in the sentence, right? I mean, you can say, “I got a windfall 200 smackers one day in summer—but lost it all on a traffic violation.” Or you can say, “I lost a couple hundred dollars on a traffic ticket—but got it mostly back in the form of an out-of-the-blue gift!” It’s all in the way you look at things, I guess.
But the “wash” thing keeps bugging me in some fundamental philosophical way—the way that through six-plus decades it seems that monetary gains and losses have cancelled each other out on balance. Nothing went quite the way I envisioned: I made sizable stupid money blunders, and sizable unexpected gains. Some of those losses were for innocent mistakes, and almost all the augmentations were unmerited. There has been no closely correlated one-to-one correspondence between my wits and my money. The old adage has borne out: “Easy come, easy go.”
Ben Shapiro chides cultural snowflakes: “Facts don’t care about your feelings.” I propose a similar axiom: “Cash doesn’t care about your deservingness.” Don’t worry about money, because money isn’t worried about you. Jesus spoke of the fickleness of Lady Lucre this way: “moth and rust destroy … thieves break in and steal.”
My Great Depression–scarred maternal grandmother was a world-class money worrier and had amassed a fortune in nickels and dimes by her nineties, only to be pressured into handing the whole caboodle over to my father’s failing furniture business, which tanked anyway. How many needs and pleasures did she deny herself and others to make that fortune that took wing in a moment?
When I was a widow (that was a 14-year stretch), and totally unemployable except for writing, for some reason I wasn’t worried about money. And it’s a good thing too, because it would have been a waste of perfectly good brain cells: A total stranger from Texas phoned and said the Lord had put it on his heart to buy me a car. No thank you, I have a car, I said. Hmm, he said, then I’ll send you a check. The next week I got $25,000 in the mail. I wasn’t aware I would need it, but God was.
We may take these boons when Heaven grants them, and be grateful. My brother and his wife were subsisting on bread and yogurt and faith during seminary and missionary support-raising days. Then his father-in-law uncharacteristically phoned to say he bought them a Citroën CX, which unbeknownst to my brother was in 1983 one of Citroën’s most expensive models (copied by Rolls Royce). Later, at a café in Ales, France, the father-in-law joked with a couple of his buddies: “So how do you like that? I bust my butt all year working at the restaurant, yet I drive that crummy little jalopy, whereas my son-in-law here, the prayer merchant, drives that big fancy Citroën! There’s something wrong here!”
“Not at all,” said my brother. “It’s quite normal.”
“What do you mean, it’s normal?” the elder asked.
“I reached into my handbag and pulled out my pocket Bible and turned to the book of Ecclesiastes. … I read out loud: ‘To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and happiness; but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God’” (Ecclesiastes 2:26). (Marc Mailloux, God Still Loves the French).
Seek first the kingdom of God, and He will take care of you. It’s the only thing you can rely on.