A Special Message, All Hymns, and Rascal Flatts

What would do if you received an email reading, “Someone’s trying to find you to get you some money?” I got one recently… but this looked different. I recognized the name of a girl from a youth ministry I ran over 20 years ago. “You need to call this phone number,” it read.  My plane was late, so I dialed. I asked for a person I only knew as, “Lisa.” Hi Stefan, this is Lisa, from the USVI Government payroll office. You may not remember me, but I found a check belonging to you.” Hmm, “Keep going,” I thought. “Well, you rented a room to a friend of mine who happened to be in your Youth Group. I recognized your name and tried to find you.” I kept waiting for the catch. “Twenty years ago, you taught school in the Virgin Islands, and we owed you money which you were never paid. They’ve now released funds as retroactive pay.” My joy factor multiplied exponentially at this point. “Well exactly how much,” I asked, trying to keep my cool. We owe you $22,000. 

My heart pounded, and my mind raced. Should I do the dive trip to Bora Bora, an African safari, or take my kids (me) to Disney World. (In actuality, I could now pay some bills) I didn’t really know this lady, but I’m pretty sure she had wings and a halo. If she didn’t I could buy her some. Before I had a chance to spend a penny, she said, “Now the check is way out of date, and I don’t know if they’ll re-issue it again at this point, but I’ll do everything I can. The government only approved a percentage at this time.” (Just under $4,000) Nevertheless, I was singing a new song. A serendipitous paycheck from a job I worked 20 years ago…and they tracked me down. Thank You Jesus

After a month or so of emails, I got the check in the mail. I headed to the bank with a big smile on my face, happy to deposit it, pay off my bills, and be able to bless someone. “God you are Good,” I thought. The tellers behind the counter seemed fascinated by this check from a job I did over 20 years ago. One teller said,” I wish somebody would call me with a check in my name.” It was an amazing feeling. Then…something happened.

A lady walked in to make a deposit. She and I were the only customers. The bank employees all seemed to know her, and I eavesdropped on the conversation. She obviously owned a convenience store where 3 people recently won the lottery. “We don’t usually see big winners,” she said, “but last month we had a guy win $5000 instantly.” (Wow! I thought) “Two days later a woman won $40,000.” (Man, I wish that was me, I thought) “Then,” she said, “An old man won one million dollars! (OK, goodness and mercy may have followed me in, but jealousy was now facing me) Here I was, all happy at hitting the jackpot, and in an instant, I look at someone else’s situation, and forget my own blessing.

Sound familiar? In Matt: 20:1-16, Jesus tells a powerful story about a master paying workers the same amount, whether they labor all day, or a few hours. They were ticked. Ungrateful workers! (sigh) Oh, I dread recalling times when my thinking of what I don’t have, smothers thanking God for what I do have.

Bottom line? God is fair. He’s just. He’s good. He cares. He is God…and I am not. To some He gives health, and to others He allows sudden illness. Some enjoy seasons of blessing, while others endure what seems to be a long winter. I have a friend who loves to take pictures of his first class seat on airplanes and text them to me with the caption, “If only you had worked harder.” (We laugh a lot) I should mention here that in a late night walk around my church, (the night before heading to the bank), I counted 26 men and women sleeping on cardboard, old newspapers, and in the bushes, grateful to have a place to rest.

How about we make a decision right now. Thank Him. Got a dime? Thank Him. Owe a lot? Thank Him. Eyes to read this? Thank Him. My friend, right now He offers unconditional forgiveness, indiscriminate love, bountiful mercy, unending favor, and life eternal through Jesus Christ. You actually have…everything. Thank HIM!


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