November 16, 2008

Only God’s money

Matthew 25:16

Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment.

This morning at St. Cuthbert’s, Pamela offered each household a fifty dollar bill from the church’s discretionary fund. Is she insane? Instructions: This is God’s fifty dollars. Use it to invest in God’s kingdom. In ninety days, tell the church what you made of it.

This is a poor church. A small church. But that fifty-dollar bill began to enrich and enlarge my ideas about God the moment I touched it. My first thought was an earnest desire to make something of it and come back next week with a hundred-dollar bill to put in the offering plate. So far so good.

I left church and drove downtown to the YMCA. I packed my wallet in my gym bag to take into the building with me, where I planned to spend a quarter to store the wallet in a locked box during my workout. But I nearly left behind the fifty, which I had stashed in the glove compartment. I caught myself thinking a dark, quiet thought: Well, if it’s stolen … it’s only God’s money.

Perplexed, I slipped the fifty into my wallet—my wallet—and took it inside with me.

My wallet. Inside which my credit cards and my cash and my insurance cards have shifted to make room for this stranger, God’s fifty-dollar bill, which is only here on holiday.

Rosie and the billThough I am generous with my money, this fifty-dollar bill is illuminating a fixed stinginess in me. I believe the theory that my whole wallet belongs to God. It is a beautiful theory. But how does my belief hold up in practice? In my unguarded moments?

What would happen if I was carrying around God’s wallet, containing God’s credit cards? What if my ATM card gave me access to God’s checking account?

But that’s crazy talk for another day. What will I do with the fifty dollars? I’m still thinking.

For her part, our cat Rosie does not see the thing having any value whatsoever.