July 19, 2009

Six Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents

During the weeks leading up to the closing on my house, I felt like I was getting slammed left and right by different... somewhat significant... expenses. I wasn't too worried about it because I had done some figuring with my realtor and we had estimated that I was going to get about $1400. I was fine with this amount because the market was down and also because we hadn't owned the house for very long. To walk away with something when I was hearing all sorts of horror stories about people losing thousands... well, my little bit of something didn't sound too bad.

Before I even started fixing my house the fuel pump went out on the van. You can read a little about that by clicking here. After the first few trips to Advanced Auto Parts I was starting to feel the pinch. I told myself, "...God, this is your money. I am trying to be a good steward of this money, but it is yours. If you want me to spend it on a fuel pump, that's OK with me."

Then I broke a shock on the truck so I had to replace that. It was God's money though, I was just the steward.

Then I started on the house: Vents needed installing, there was electrical work that needed to be done, and a cracked window replaced. I tackled the vents and the cracked window myself, but I needed a licensed electrician for the rest. God was so good to me and allowed me to get the work done quickly and efficiently. There was even a guy at the church that did the electrical work for free! (I am seriously endebted to that guy!) But even with the graciousness of friends I still had to shell out a little cash. Each time that I had to make another trip to Lowes, I kept saying, "That's OK... It's God's money." But the total was getting higher and higher and somewhere in the back of my head I kept thinking about how that $1400 was quickly dwindling away to nothing.

I drove the van home... money required. I then flew back... money required. I rented a Penske truck for the actual move... money required. This wasn't looking good.

Then came the day before closing...

I was loading my moving truck and it wasn't looking like it was all going to fit. I was giving things away left and right: frozen food, dry goods, canned goods, old baby stuff... I sold an old jogging stroller for $6. This mom came up and asked how much I wanted.

"How much do you have?" I say.

"I only have six bucks, but I can get more if you need it!"

"Don't worry about it," I tell her, "it pulls a little to the right anyway." So I pocket the $6.

Just moments later the realtor shows up. It was bad news. Our estimates were wrong and it was looking like we were going to have to pay. The first tally sheet came back with me owing $1,993! Whoa! But she tells me that was wrong and the new numbers were being worked by the attorney. It looked like it was going to be around $6 that I owed.

Talk about discouragement. I thought that it was interesting that I had just received $6, but I was still discouraged. As the night progressed, it just got worse. The truck was almost full, and it wasn't going to all fit. I started putting things in the back of my pickup and trying to decide what I could leave behind... the extra mower, the swingset... then my wife reminded me of my little shed that I hadn't emptied yet. I almost cried.

My friend Lee showed up and helped me throw the final items into the pickup truck and tie down a tarp over the top. Since I had to be out the next day, I drove that truck over to his house to park it until I could come back and get it. His family then graciously listened to my bad news and my discouragement, then they prayed for me and... against my wishes... booked us a hotel room and bought us supper. I didn't have the strength to fight it, so I accepted.

Once we were at the hotel and our bellies were filled with Outback Steakhouse Chicken Quesadillas I began to empty my pockets. I dug deep into the one pocket and pulled out the six dollars from the stroller and some change that I had picked up while moving the furniture into the truck. (Every time some little bit of coinage had rolled out, I simply pocketed it.) I counted it out, and left it there on the hotel room table: six dollars and eighty-three cents.

I turned to my wife and said, "Well, I hope that I don't have to owe more than $6.83. That's all I have." We laughed (a little) then silently I prayed to myself, "Well Lord, I really do hope it isn't more than $6.83."

The next morning I drove up to the attorney's office for the closing. I arrived a little early because I wanted to make sure that there wasn't some other mistake and I was actually going to get more money. They worked over the numbers again and it was still not in my favor, but then I looked down at the bottom of the sheet and saw the actual amount that I was going to have to pay.

Six Dollars and Eighty-Three Cents.

I couldn't believe it. I told my wife immediately, but I couldn't stop there. I ended up sharing this with the attorney, both realtors, and the lady buying my house. They were all Christians, so we rejoiced together over the goodness of God! When we got to the end of the closing where I had to pay, I said, "Here you go. This is the money that God gave to me, now I am giving it to you. It's His."

I have to be honest... I needed that $6.83. I was feeling so discouraged, but it was almost like God said, "Matt, I am going to give you everything you need. Not a penny more, but not a penny less. It is your daily bread that I will supply."

In my heart, I would still like to have the $1400, but I wouldn't take it if I had to trade in my six dollars and eighty-three cents story.