Saturday, December 09, 2006


I love it when every day life teaches invaluable eternal lessons.

Such an opportunity was given to me in the past 24 hours.

Yesterday morning, on the way to work, I collided with another car and put a huge dent in my front wheel basin. I am currently working for AmeriCorps, which means I get a small living stipend. The stipend is intentionally set below the poverty level so that we can empathize and understand the community that we are serving.

Well, $750 insurance deductibles and poverty level living stipends do not go hand-in-hand. Add to this a drunk driver hit my car about a month ago and cracked up the other side of my car and due to his lack of car insurance, it will require an additional $750 insurance deductible for those repairs. Not to mention the repairs to the vehicle I collided with yesterday morning.

That's a lot of money.

Being in the situation that I am in, I prayed a lot yesterday about God providing funds for me to fix the damages on my car. I was tempted a time or two to curse my current living stipend and look back with longing to the Egypt of my former salary.

On the surface, it looks like my problem is an economic one. My current job, while it affords me the pleasure of serving the poor - a very Biblical thing to do -- it does not afford me the luxury of buying food and clothing or fixing my car. So surely, my solution is as simple as finding a nice paying job, right? After all, I'm college educated, this would not be a hard task in the least to accomplish.

But I guess if I could solve all my own problems that would eliminate my need to cry out to God. And eliminating the need to cry out to God means robbing myself of opportunities to see His grace in my life. I cannot be a recipient of his grace if I don't need it.

Rabbit Trail: Two weeks ago I was at the bank and was informed that I had over drafted my checking account. I was devastated. I had been hoarding a $100 check from my parents for over four months in hopes to spend it on my business trip in D.C. As I flew to D.C. with empty pockets, I was disappointed that all of my spending money was gone. I had hoped to buy some much needed clothes with that money.

Two days before I flew back home, I met a friend in D.C. for dinner while my boss went shopping at Macy's. We met up later at the hotel room and my boss came in beaming, three shopping bags chock full of clothes. To my utter shock and delight - the clothes were for me. (Apparently they had some great clearance racks). They were all designer labels - something I have never owned or afforded in my life. When I got home, I tallied up all of the original prices on each price tag and it came to $1200.

My point in all this? What would I have gotten with my hoarded $100? God took the last dime I had and compensated me TWELVE times what I could afford. But he couldn't compensate me until he first depleted me of all of my own resources. This way, HE gets the glory, not me. It's not my job or my parent's check - it's just sheer grace.

So jump back now to the car situation. Where am I going to get $1500 for my car repairs?

After I prayed this morning for the $1500, I went to my trusty "Streams in the Desert" devotional (Mrs. Charles Cowman). The verse for today's entry was an old favorite - the one given to my mom the day I was born --
2 Corinthians 4:17 in the Weymouth translation:

For this, our light and transitory burden of suffering is achieving for us a weight of glory.

I saw two amazing things in this, one of which was pointed out by the author of the devotional, another which came via my current study of the book of Numbers.

"Achieving" the author says, is the key word. That we are in essence being "compensated for our sufferings." We do not suffer in vain because according to Paul, these afflictions are achieving an end.

The word "compensation" reached off the page and smacked me. For, isn't my entire prayer this morning, "Lord, I need $1500?" Will God give me the $15o0? Yes, I have no doubt that he will. But what I learned this morning is that God has a compensation of eternal value -- value that makes $1500 American dollars look like the useless scraps of paper that they are.

Eternal compensation. We are EARNING WAGES for eternity. Currency that we are earning towards eternity when we suffer. The dent in my car isn't just an accident or even a is a paycheck. Eternal wages.

This shifts my thinking from, "Oh my, how in the world am I gonna scrape up $1500" to "$1500? What a joke. The God of heaven sees me worthy to dent my car, so that I will call upon him, so that he will provide, so that my needs will be met, so that I will praise him, so that I will trust him more, so that I and others will see his glory..." I'm getting paid for this dent - and like my recent shopping spree -- he is giving me twelve times the $1500 I need because in addition to fixing my car (which I know he will) I am getting eternal compensation for my trials.

The second thing I found in this verse (that linked to something I just learned in Numbers) is the word "weight." A weight of glory. What an unusual phrase. Metaphorically speaking, "weight" often implies a burden. This word juxtaposes the phrases of the verse beautifully: your weight of trial will turn into a weight of glory.

But there's something hovering below the surface that perhaps makes the devotional author's "compensation" theory even stronger. In the Old Testament, the Israelites paid temple taxes. This was paid by shekels. I have always thought that shekels were coins that equate to our nickels and quarters. However, in reading an article in my archeological study Bible, I discovered that an ancient shekel was not a coin, it was actually a weight. The shekel value was not determined by price, but by the weight represented by different sized pieces of metal. So, in Old Testament culture, "weight" was equal to currency!

In light of this, ponder anew the phrase, "an eternal weight of glory." Could this at all be like us saying, "An eternal gold mine of glory" or "An eternal million dollar winning lottery ticket of glory"?

So, how does all of this relate to a blog about physical deformities and disabilities? I think the link is obvious. When we suffer, we look for meaning and understanding behind how or why a loving God would inflict us with such weighty sorrow. I just want to encourage the broken in heart today by saying, you are earning an eternal compensation for your perceived losses. Drop to your knees and praise and worship our heavenly banker - for his generosity is unfathomable.

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