There’s a worn path around the edge of my yard that my dog uses to seal the perimeter. She’s about as menacing as a baby chipmunk, but I think in her mind she is Jack Bauer and the lawn furniture is a nuclear reactor that is under siege by the Russians. So she patrols the fence line. When a car goes by more slowly than she deems appropriate, she’ll ferociously bark as though it’s not cute.
That worn path has nothing, though, on the path that missionaries make beelining for the mailbox around this time of year. With end of year checks rolling in like the Crimson Tide (aka rolling in more slowly than expected, and behind your close rival), there’s nothing that beats the walk out to the mailbox for a missionary expecting support checks.
Maybe I’m alone in this, but I think it is quite literally impossible to exceed my expectations for the outcome of that 50-foot stroll. Here’s how it generally goes down in an unprecedented foot-by-foot breakdown:
Open the front door:
I wonder what’s in the box today? Yesterday was $100, so I don’t want to get my hopes up.
I have spent like 45 minutes reading my Bible today, Jesus. And I know you don’t necessarily reward based on performance and all, but still, it’s gotta count for something that I spent time reading the Bible, right? I’d say it’s worth at least a $500 check. Or a new monthly donor. You can pick.
I heard this one guy at a conference about raising support say that there are people who have been on his mailing list for 15 years and never given anything, and then out of the blue they give $10,000 one year. I have like 50 people like that on my mailing list, so it only seems right that this would be the year that I get the big one.
Jesus I repent of the entitlement attitude that would expect anything like that silly $10,000 check I was expecting 5 feet ago. I bow right now (kneels in the yard) and confess that you are king, and I will take what you give.
Lord, you own the cattle on 1000 hills, according to the Bible. But the bottom line for me is that I just need a Black Angus or two. I think the revenue off of that type of cattle would be more than sufficient for my needs.
God, I can’t help but think that someday this walk is going to be used in a sermon illustration about persevering, inspirational video about God’s abundant provision, or (as a last resort) remarkably funny blog about raising support. Allow me to take the time to notice the small details that make for a good story, like the barking dog across the street, and the smell of cigarettes wafting across the yard from my chain-smoking neighbor’s front porch.
When they make the Hallmark channel movie out of this moment, I really hope they cast somebody attractive, but not over the top, as me. I don’t think I could hang with Matthew McConaughey, or anything. Nobody wants audible groans at the meet-and-greet following the screening from not being as attractive as the actor. But just don’t cast Rob Schnieder. Yeah, mediocre physical appearance, likeable guy. That’s all I ask for, Hallmark. I can almost hear the minor key change to the relative major as I cross over the half-way point en route to… (movie trailer voice) the one letter that would change my life forever.
God, I confess to you my pride for considering myself better looking than Rob Schnieder. That was sin on my part. Lord, don’t allow my sin to keep me from truly experiencing any blessing that you might want to release in my life. Let the river flow, Lord.
In the book of James, it says that the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. God, I confess my unrighteousness, but through the blood of Jesus I am righteous, right? So Lord, I pray in Jesus’ name that you would provide for my family for the next three years with what I am about to open in that mailbox now just 10 feet away. Lord, not my will, but yours. But seriously, at least $20,000 dollars, in light of the “you have not because you ask not” verse. That’s in the Bible, right?
I don’t want to over-think this, but with the down economy and the fact that just yesterday I was bragging to a friend about God being the God of the impossible, and the sermon last week was about God making a way for the Israelites where it seemed like a dead-end. It’s like God has perfectly lined up this to be my moment of financial breakthrough. God, I just want to thank you in advance no matter what is in this mailbox. But I’m definitely expectant, Lord.
Well, this is it. (lays a hand on the outside of the mailbox) God, I don’t mean to get emotional, but I’m just so excited to see what you’ve done. (reaches into mailbox, pulling out a single letter from Kohls, announcing their year-end sale.)
Walking back toward the house:
There’s always tomorrow, right Lord?
I really wish that my attitude were farther from that hypothetical situation. Am I alone? Do other people play theological mind-games on their way to check the mail?