Grace is a $100 bill

It may seem strange for me to equate grace with money. You may find it a little bit blasphemous, but let me tell you a story of something that happened to me over 10 years ago…

The Great Recession had just swept through the United States and very few people were untouched by its insatiable and greedy presence. My own real estate and hard money businesses had been eaten alive and after letting go over 80 percent of my workforce, closing down the office, and moving everything to the basement of a house I could no longer afford, it was difficult to see God’s grace.

Jaclyn and I had three small children, all under the age of three, our accounts had been wiped out, all my properties, which had been leveraged to the hilt, were in foreclosure, and the loans I had made to other investors were in default. I had painted myself into a corner and felt the room closing in on me.

It was then that God urged us to move to Spokane. We would be closer to my family and also surrounded by like-minded Christian churches and communities who could offer the faith we so desperately needed at the time.

After we made the decision, I drove up on a reconnaissance mission to scope out the houses and the lay of the land. I remember wondering if we were simply trading one state of want for another. My constant prayer at the time was, “Lord, lead me out of this. Allow my to provide for my wife and children.”

On my way home, I stayed in a seedy motel just off the interstate. I had only $100 left in my wallet. It was a haphazard safety net to be sure, but at least it was something. As I walked down the hall toward the exit, I passed a small, young hispanic maid. We barely looked at each other. I was too preoccupied in my own troubles to notice anyone else and she was used to not making eye contact with the guests.

As I made my way to the exit, a voice permeated my thoughts and said, “Give her that $100 bill.” It was crystal clear and so out of context of what I was thinking that it stopped me in my tracks. I questioned the voice, my sanity, and especially the sentiment. “My last $100? What if I need it? What if the car breaks down? What if I get hungry?” As I wrestled with the voice, it became louder and more persistent. So I took the money from my wallet, turned around, and ran after the woman. When I caught up to her, I simply stuffed the money into her bewildered hand, mumbled “God bless,” and turned around and hurried toward the exit. I didn’t wait for a response, nor do I know if it was beneficial to her.

In the car, I felt the overwhelming grace that I had prayed for, and had felt absent of, over the past few months.

I thought of this story as I was reading Chapter Five of this summer’s reading selection, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. In it, he quotes Frederick Buechner: “For what we need to know, of course, is not just that God exists, not just that beyond the steely brightness of the stars there is a cosmic intelligence of some kind that keeps the whole show going, but that there is a God right here in the thick of our day-by-day lives who may not be writing messages about himself in the stars but in one way or another is trying to get messages through our blindness as we move around down here knee-deep in the fragrant muck and misery and marvel of the world. It is not objective proof of God’s existence that we want, but the experience of God’s presence.”

I can say that through God’s gesture of grace–reaching into my wallet and giving away my last $100 bill–was the message I had been searching for. I believe I probably needed to give that $100 away more than the woman needed it. In that instance, God allowed me to see beyond my own needs and wants and that was grace indeed. An everyday miracle.

I ask that you also ask for God’s gift of grace so you too can delight in it’s, oftentimes, surprising sources.

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