It was 1981. I was married then, and our little family of three survived on the thinest of margins. I made a mediocre salary working at a community mental health center and my wife was a full-time student with only a smidgen of income. I balanced my checkbook to the penny almost daily. Often there was less than $10. in the account. I worried a lot about money back then.
One brisk Winter morning I drove to work in downtown Sanford. As I drove I was likely both praying and ruminating about our finances. I parked in a large lot behind the building. I often parked on the street in front of the building, but for whatever reason I parked out back this particular morning. The parking lot was almost empty. I got out of the car and as I started to walk there it was on the grassy median–a picture of Alexander Hamilton smiling up at me. It was a ten dollar bill. I could scarcely believe my eyes. There was not another soul around and not another car within fifty feet. It was mine.
I felt a twinge of guilt; somebody had lost that 10-spot, but there was no reasonable way of getting it back to that person. I rejoiced with a better than usual lunch that day. Later, I put a couple bucks worth of gas in the car and bought a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread on the way home. I felt like a rich man for a change. Thirty years ago ten bucks stretched a lot further than it does now.
That memory has lived vividly in my thoughts since the day it happened. It was the Lord winking and saying, “Dont worry, everything’s under control.” It was just one incident of many in a time when we had to rely on the Lord’s providence to keep going. I could see the Lord working in my life thru occurrences like that and it strengthened my faith. I was pretty much a new believer at that time.
Back to time present: My work has been slow the past five months and I’ve started to worry about money again. Around mid-May new referrals slowed dramatically and my schedule book is dotted with cancellations and no/shows. I’ve been praying a lot for new referrals. I’ve even been praying the Prayer of Jabez. Now that’s desperation. I’ve often thought of Dave Ramsay as an overly smug emissary of the world–but maybe I was wrong. I know he plays the Christian card. Nevertheless, you become what you think about constantly. Maybe I should’ve taken one of his money-obsessive classes. Maybe I wouldn’t be in this fix if I had.
Anyway, last Sunday I drove over to a little shopping plaza near where I live. I wanted to check on an item at both Radio Shack and the phone store. I parked outside of the phone store but then decided I would go to Radio Shack first and so I moved the car several rows further. And there it was. Even before I got out of the car I could see it on the grassy median–a crumpled up, well-worn $20. Once again I had a twinge of guilt. There were several cars parked nearby and I had the urge to stick it under the windshield wiper of the closest. Perhaps I should have. Maybe it was the Holy Spirit telling me to do that–but I didn’t. But I know the money isn’t mine and I’ll give it away.
Then, last week some reimbursement checks came and my bank account is looking better. Why was I ever worried?