Isn’t it uncanny how God knows us?
For instance, who knew that I needed a very clear reminder of God’s presence last Thursday? Who knew that I was exhausted from work and slightly anxious? Who would think of using a beggar with a self-proclaimed bed bug infestation, to remind someone of God’s love?
Certainly not Jen.
Jen had come to my door one night some weeks back, I think when I was exhausted from work, and asked for $15. I don’t usually give cash freely to people, although I admit I’m still grappling with the question of what Jesus would actually do in these situations. But at any rate, she promised to pay me back on “Wednesday” when Harvey got his check.
“Well, I want you to keep your word, then,” I told her. I happened to have the cash, so I gave it, doubtfully, because of course she wouldn’t pay it back and then what would I do about our agreement that she would keep her word?
The “Wednesday” came and went. She came begging again.
“I know I haven’t given the money back, but I will next Wednesday,” she said.
I can’t remember if she was trying to sell me something that day, but I didn’t give her more money. I think I gave her some coffee. But I felt a little unsure. I didn’t need the $15, and although I wanted her to keep her word, I knew at some point I might just have to cancel the debt and move on. But how do you handle that? What would be best for her?
I asked a few people about it, and the weeks flew by and I didn’t see her much. I took a bowl of Arizona grapefruit to their house, but Harvey was the one who answered the door and accepted the fruit.
Then last Saturday, walking home from my neighbor Mary’s (who by the way cooks the most fantastic meatloaf, cornbread, greens, and cranberry lemon cake!) I met her on the street.
“I’m going to bring that on Wednesday,” she said when I greeted her, and continued hurrying down the sidewalk almost without looking at me. Mostly, this just confirmed to me that she probably wouldn’t ever keep her word. Too many Wednesdays had passed. I would have to come up with a new idea.
The next morning was our prayer meeting at church for Elkhart, and I asked the group to pray for Jen and Harvey, and for me because I didn’t know what to do next.
I then mostly forgot about that situation as I grappled with long, stressful days at work, and several bouts of anxiety about the future. (“I suppose my level of anxiety is unnecessary,” I had told Mary at the candlelit meat loaf meal at her house. “Yes,” she said.)
I was resting on Thursday, my first day off of work. Resting and thinking, and I fear, worrying. Earlier in the week I had seen a quote from Corrie ten Boom.
“There is no panic in heaven. God has no problems, only plans.”
I appreciated that quote, but I still felt tired and a bit lost.
The doorbell rang. Oh, it’s Sarah bringing me some iced coffee, I thought, because she had mentioned that possibility earlier in the day when I orders pancakes at her cafe.
I walked down my hall and swung the door open without checking to see who it was.
“I brought this,” she said, and handed me some cash.
It was smoke-scented and folded, but it was genuine cash from the Treasury of the United States of America. I had never seen cash in her hand, other than when it had come from my hand. I unfolded it slightly and saw two five dollar bills. That was fine. I had often hired her to do jobs for $10, and she might have truly forgotten that the original loan was $15. I certainly didn’t care, and I was shocked to see cash at all.
“Good for you,” I said.
“Do you have an inhaler?” she asked.
“I don’t,” I said.
She borrowed my phone to make a phone call to the place that provides her inhalers. I gave her some tea bags and sugar, and she walked away somewhat quietly.
I still don’t know how to help her in the best way. But I wonder if she became a little more respectable in her own eyes that day, knowing that she had kept her word. I know her well enough to know that she normally doesn’t. Normally, she manipulates, cajoles, begs, and almost certainly steals.
But that day she repaid a loan, weeks after she had said she would.
I was so touched by God’s hand on that day, I shared the story by text with the people who had been in the prayer meeting. Then I thought, I should write about this in my blog. So I took out my phone to take a photo of the cash, just to show you.
That’s when I saw that I was the one who miscounted, not Jen, not God. It was three fives, not two. Every dollar had come back.
Did you really think that I don’t know how to count? I can almost hear God saying.
A peace settled over my heart and my spirit. I was reminded that God was with me, right there on my porch in the most unlikely way, and I knew I would be okay. I was reminded that God answers prayer specifically and at the perfect time, and I knew he would answer them again.
And I was reminded that God knows me. He knows that I love a great story. He knew that I needed one, that day.
Isn’t it uncanny how God knows us?
No panic. No problems. Only plans!