Divine Calculation

Nov 22, 2002 03:00 AM EST

My prayer was answered by someone's pocket change.

Time was running out. I needed $153.27 by 2 p.m. and it was already 1:30. I was confident that God would meet my need for this amount when the time came, but this was cutting it awfully close.

I sat in my car outside a restaurant where I had just eaten lunch with several ladies from my church. When it came time to pay for the meal, I picked up the tab of a guest missionary from Romania, using my last $20.

God will provide my need, I said confidently to myself. But my certainty began to waver as the breeze blew through my car windows. No one else knew about my dilemma.

What should I do? Keys still clutched in my hand, I laid my head back against the headrest and thought of the verse in Matthew 17:27 that tells how Jesus' disciples needed money to pay their taxes. He told them to go out on the lake and the first fish they caught would have a coin in its mouth that would cover the amount they needed.

"Dear Lord," I prayed. "I need a fish soon. Please show me where to find the lake."

There was no doubt in my mind that God had provided the opportunity I'd been given to fly to Indianapolis, Indiana, with a physical therapist friend. We were to attend a workshop on "lymphodema" open only to doctors and physical therapists. I was neither.

But I suffered from this condition that caused tremendous swelling in my arm, a result of surgery for cancer. Because my physical therapist knew of the great interest I had in the subject, she arranged for me to attend with her. On top of that, every expense would be paid, except my plane fare of $153.27.

I eagerly accepted her invitation and started asking God to help provide the money for me to go. I knew from the start it would take a miracle because our budget was stretched as tight as it could go toward medical bills incurred fighting the cancer. But it wasn't hard for me to believe in miracles—I was living proof!

Since God had chosen to heal me of cancer, I reasoned, but this condition remained, there must be a reason. Maybe he wanted to use me to help find a cure for this problem, which affects millions of people. Before me was a rare opportunity to research and learn more about the condition from a medical point of view. I was to meet my friend in a half hour at the travel agency to pay for and pick up my plane ticket.

A wrinkled, smudged envelope

I glanced in my rear-view mirror and saw a small black sports car back out, then pull back into its parking space. As I watched, it backed out again and I recognized the driver as Beverly Easton, a lady from my luncheon group.

I wondered if she was having car trouble when she slowly drove out of the parking lot, circled the restaurant, and pulled back in again. This time she stopped in the middle of the lot, got out, and walked toward my car. Maybe she thinks I'm having car trouble. Beverly stuck her head through my open passenger window.

"I know you don't know me very well and I hope you don't think I'm crazy," she said.

"I'm so embarrassed. Please don't be offended by this."

My curiosity was stirred. "What's the matter, Beverly?"

"Well," she hesitated. "Several months ago God told me to put change in an envelope for you. I've just carried it around and been adding to it every day till I got the nerve to give it to you. I hope this isn't insulting."

Her face flamed red as she tossed a bulging envelope onto the car seat.

"I just have to obey God," she mumbled, darting to her car before I could respond.

Makeup smudges and ink smears covered the once white envelope. On the front, my name was scribbled in big letters and there was a card inside explaining that she wasn't sure why, but God had told her to give me this money. It was dated several months earlier. With tears in my eyes, I carefully emptied the contents out on the seat and started counting. There were bills of all denominations and lots of change.

The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he provided his followers in Bible days with what they needed, he can and will do the same for his followers today. What an awesome God he is.

This time it wasn't a lake he used, but a lady named Beverly. And it wasn't a fish, but an envelope. One that contained exactly $153.27.

By Lois Spoon