I’m usually a pretty laid back guy. Sometimes, to a fault. When living in a home with high levels of emotion (3 little girls!), I feel like it’s a pretty handy trait. But every once in a while, something grabs me hard. That happened earlier this week…
We’d spent the day several hours from home, welcoming my new niece and nephew into the world. Everything went great, my sister and her husband now have two healthy babies in their family. After 6 hours of driving, and a few hours in lobbies, we wanted to stretch our legs. So we stopped by the mall on the way into town to do some window shopping. (We take every chance we can to give our girls the experience of walking through the mall without buying anything.)
Toward the end of our time there, I was waiting outside a restroom for our older two girls while my wife was elsewhere with our youngest. I did what any dude with a smart-phone would do, I checked my e-mail. I saw one from our adoption agency, and got really excited. Then I noticed the subject line: “Invoice” Oh no.
When the “difficult good news” came a couple weeks ago, one thing we asked as the dust cleared was, “How much of what we paid is still there?” Finally, here was our answer. The bill was for the total amount we’d recently paid, over $9,000. I was stunned. Shocked. Speechless. I didn’t know what we were going to do next. All the people who gave sacrificially, and now their money is gone. All the work we did to raise/save, all gone. Starting from scratch, and even though I dress well, we aren’t really living like Gatsby’s here.
As my daughters came out, and we continued a bit more at the mall, I tried to stay composed. My wife knew something was up, but I assured her we’d talk about it later….which probably wasn’t reassuring. We loaded into the van, and began the drive home.
Then it happened. In a crucial moment we all face in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, I had a knee-jerk reaction. The realization “Oh yeah, we serve a God who’s big enough to carry our burdens!” hit me. I checked my mirrors, and swerved over a few lanes to change our destination. My wife and kids still didn’t know what was up, but assumed I needed something from my office at church. Until we got there, and I asked them to all come inside with me.
We gathered at the altar. The girls were excited to be in a giant sanctuary all to themselves, and were exploring around the altar, and I invited them all to join us. They sat down, and I talked about prayer with them. How we can pray anywhere, at any time. But that sometimes, we have a burden or a need to come to God in a special way. I choked up, as I explained that daddy was feeling sad and overwhelmed by waiting for Phoebe. That I wanted to pray together that God would do something really soon, to help encourage us. So we had each girl pray, and then mommy and daddy closed it out. They began to explore the sanctuary some more, and I broke the news to my wife…we were financially hurting bad. We stood together for a moment at the altar…
After a few tears, we regained composure. We obviously can’t do this. He’s called us, and we feel like we’re answering the call. Simple enough….God, hear our prayers.
As we gathered to leave the sanctuary, I decided to check my e-mail once more. Together, we opened a new e-mail from our agency that had just arrived:
“I’m really sorry about that. This was a duplicate invoice. I deleted it. You are currently paid up. Thanks!”
Still an emotional wreck, I pulled my wife in close and laughed a bit deliriously. Sure, I was a bit upset that anyone could accidentally send an invoice for over $9,000. But more than that, I was thankful. God was quick to respond. We’d had a great experience of prayer as a family, and taught our children the importance of coming before God in a unique way sometimes. Sure, we still need to raise quite a bit more…..but it’s $9,000 less than when we began to pray…..:)