PROGRAM W-1742 – Part II
It’s true what Jesus told us: We cannot serve God and Money—spelled with a capital “M”—because he recognized the power of money and how easily we can be fooled into thinking that money is the answer to all our problems. Fran finds herself in this mental trap.
At work this day, the money worries are heavy on her mind and she really doesn’t want to listen to Jesus. She’s into self-pity, and sometimes it’s hard for Fran to leave her pity party behind.
As she sits at her desk worrying and feeling sorry for herself, her phone rings. “Mrs. Langley,” the voice says.
“Yes,” Fran replies.
“Mrs. Langley, I’m calling for Dr. Carrow. I was just calling about the bill for Alice’s dental work. It’s past due and we were wondering when you might be able to pay it?”
Fran is stunned as she realizes what this is—a collection call. “Uh,” she mutters, very embarrassed. “Well, I know it’s a little late, but I’ll try to pay right away. I’m sorry, it’s just that so many bills have come due this month—I’m sorry.”
“Are you saying then that you’ll get a check off to us soon? When can we expect it, Mrs. Langley?” the cold voice asks on the other end of the phone. Fran can’t believe how pushy he is.
“Uh, well,” Fran tries to think, “I’ll try to get a check off this week.”
“Then we can expect full payment this week, is that right Mrs. Langley?” he continues.
Fran is starting to get irritated. “I’ll do the best I can.”
“Well,” the voice continues, “I’m sure you realize this is already 60 days late, so we’ll expect your check in the next few days.”
“You know,” Fran replies, “you shouldn’t be calling me here at work. Don’t call me here anymore please.”
“Well, Mrs. Langley, if you pay your bills on time, we won’t have to call you again at all,” he says with emphasis.
“I don’t believe that guy,” Fran says as she slams the phone down. She has never been so humiliated in her life. The rest of the day is pretty much a wipe-out, because Fran can’t think of anything else as she gets angrier and angrier.
Several times during the day, Jesus tries to get her attention, but Fran chooses to ignore him. She knows what he’ll say: “Fran, you’re feeling sorry for yourself; Fran, you’re letting your imagination run away with you; Fran, I’ll take care of you.” She doesn’t want to hear it.
Fran stops at the station to fill her gas tank on the way home. Johnny says to her, “Mrs. Langley, do you realize your tires are real thin? Those two on the back, there’s hardly any tread left. You oughta get some new tires soon, I think.”
Fran looks at Johnny and then at the tires. How dare he suggest that she needs to buy new tires—today of all days. She’s so upset she can’t even respond to him; abruptly she pays for the gas and drives off.
As she arrives home, Drew rushes up to her. “Mom, what happened? We can’t get the Disney Channel anymore!”
“Oh, Drew, I canceled the cable service today,” Fran replies.
“You canceled cable? But why?” Drew demands to know.
“Because we can’t afford it, that’s why,” Fran replies with a raised volume in her voice.
“What do you mean we can’t afford it? We’ve always afforded it before,” Drew asks.
“Drew, we don’t have money like we did before your father died, you kids have to realize that,” Fran replies.
“Oh, we realize it all the time. That’s all you talk about,” Drew throws back at her with anger.
“Now, listen to me, son,” Fran grabs him by the shoulders, “I’m doing the best I can. I have to cut our costs—we can do without cable television, that’s all there is to it. Furthermore, we’re probably going to have to sell the house and move to a cheaper place.”
As soon as she says it, she knows she said the wrong thing.
“Move to another house? Mom, we can’t leave this house. Mom. . .” Drew looks at her with fear in his eyes, and tears start to roll down his cheeks. Fran is ashamed at how she has upset him unnecessarily. This was no way to tell him this bad news.
She releases her grip on his shoulders, takes his hand, and leads him to the sofa. “Oh, Drew, I’m sorry I yelled at you,” she says, as she takes him in her arms. He cries freely.
“Mom, I don’t want to move. This is our home. Mom, where are we going to move?” Drew’s fears and anxiety pour out.
Hugging him close, Fran says, “Drew, I don’t know where we’ll move. But without your father’s salary, we just can’t afford this house. I don’t make as much money as your Dad did, Drew. But listen, we’ll figure something out. And whatever happens, we’ll be together and Jesus will get us through.” Fran has a little difficulty getting those last words out after her behavior today. Still, she knows Jesus is close beside her and does care about her and her children.
Later in the evening she calls to apologize to her mom for her behavior on the phone earlier in the day. As always, her mom pretends nothing happened. “You know, Fran, you ought to talk with George before you do anything. He’s got good business sense, working in the bank and all. Why don’t you call him?”
“Good suggestion, Mom,” Fran replies, as they finish their conversation. She dials Uncle George’s number, and he answers in his cheerful manner. She tells him her dilemma and he suggests she come by the bank on her way home tomorrow.
“Great, I’ll see you then,” Fran says, with a feeling of relief as she hangs up. Somehow it helps just to have someone knowledgeable to talk to.
She can sense that Jesus is pleased that she called George. Finally, she acknowledges his presence and talks with him.
“Did you see what I did to poor Drew tonight? I really dumped all my frustration on that kid,” Fran confesses. “I should have talked to you first, Lord. If I had, I don’t think I would have dumped on Drew.”
Again the Lord reminds her that money has power. And it is one of the most difficult areas for Christians to learn to trust him.
“I certainly haven’t been trusting you in that area, Lord,” Fran admits. “But when I look at my bank account and I look at the bills, I just go into panic mode. And then that collection call today—that was terribly embarrassing. And tires for the car—I just don’t know how I’ll ever pull us out of this.”
Again she remembers some of the things she read in that good book on money recently: Money problems are either going to cause you to be worried and frantic or they are going to cause you to learn to trust the Lord more. It’s your choice.
Fran mulls that over in her mind. “It’s my choice, I know that. But I feel panic set in, and I just can’t avoid it,” Fran tells Jesus.
“Feelings—there I go again with feelings, Lord. I must trust you, and sometimes ignore my feelings. Feeling the panic doesn’t mean I’m not trusting you,” she tells the Lord what he has often revealed to her. “But at that point of panic, I must make a choice either to continue in panic mode or to trust you. That’s the hard part! I have to remember that if I go by my feelings, I’ll often be in trouble. In spite of the panic feelings, I will choose to trust you, Lord—even in the midst of them.”
“It brings to mind that verse I learned when I was a kid in Sunday School: ‘What time I am afraid, I will trust in Thee.’” Fran reaches for her Bible to locate the verse. “Here it is, Psalm 56:3-4: ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid.’”
Fran meditates on those verses. “David says, ‘I will trust in you.’ Guess that’s what you mean when you say I have to make a choice, huh?”
She is learning anew a lesson she has learned before—that regardless of her feelings, if she will set her will to trust in the Lord, she’ll discover that the fears subside. Then she can think correctly, hear God’s voice, and know what to do. But when fear takes over, trust goes out the window and that’s when she finds herself doing and saying all kinds of things she wishes she hadn’t.
“Wow, that sure happened to me today,” Fran says, as she re-thinks her day. “I blew up at Mom, I gave Johnny at the service station a rude reaction, and then let poor Drew have it. I was out of control, and that was because I was controlled by fear and by my own incorrect thinking. When you let your thoughts get out of control, you can find yourself in enemy territory pretty quickly.”
Fran spends a little more time reading her Bible and talking with Jesus, and then goes to bed with a quiet spirit.
The next day, her talk with Uncle George is encouraging. He explains she could refinance her home at a lower interest rate and cut her payments significantly. He also points out that she could claim another deduction on her income tax and have an extra $40 to $50 in her paycheck instead of getting a refund check.
As Fran drives on home, she says to Jesus, “I do have some options, don’t I, Lord? Thanks for putting Uncle George in my life to help me. Now I just have to keep praying for wisdom and seeking good advice—and keep cutting back on expenses.”
Well, Fran has learned some important lessons about finances. Of course, she’ll have to learn them again, as we all do. But this is one area where God gets our attention quickly. It is so easy for us to trust in money rather than God, and we must learn and re-learn that money is not the answer to our problems.
Certainly we are required to be good stewards. Fran is learning that she must be knowledgeable and frugal; but she’s also learning that money problems have to be turned over to the Lord. Worrying doesn’t help. Getting angry doesn’t help. Self-pity doesn’t help. But Jesus can help.
I hope this story will help you learn that, too.more