I’m the subject of many of my family’s stories, but my kids are under threat of having to cook their own Christmas dinner if they tell them before my funeral. It won’t matter then, since I don’t plan on showing up for the occasion.
One of our favorite family stories about their dad is an eight-year-old mystery we call, The Case of the Missing Money.
It comes up every so often. We give a collective sigh and wonder what in the world could have happened to that money.
Well, a few days ago the mystery was finally solved!
I don’t know if people who die can see what’s happening on earth, but after my late husband, Bill Thompson, passed, someone told me I could talk to him through the Father: kind of like asking God to pass him a note.
I told the person I didn’t think Heaven would be Heaven if your wife could nag you from earth!
Well, I hope, just this once, God let Bill take a peek because if He did, Bill’s poking an angel in the ribs and laughing his head off. And he knows I mean no disrespect by telling this story. He loved a good joke. And my turn will come!
Those of you who knew my late husband know he suffered from dementia—and a little paranoia—in his latter years. He thought I was trying to take his money!
So he hid it.
Well, I have to admit, I was trying to take his money. Or rescue it, as you’ll see by the end of this story. But he didn’t make it easy.
Bill had handled all of the finances in our family (not really a good thing, ladies). As his dementia progressed, I had to take over. It wasn’t fun! For either of us. Losing control of your life never is, and Bill fought it tooth and nail.
Bill was meticulous when I married him. He could go into his closet or his drawers in the dark and find anything he wanted.
Well, I don’t know where that man went, but the one who replaced him years later lived in what I respectfully refer to as a “disaster area.”
His piles of “stuff” encroached on my space until I had to move to a different room or risk breaking my neck. And he wouldn’t let me clean his room. No doubt afraid I’d find his stash.
He was still driving then (hiding tickets and accidents, but that’s a different story) so when he was gone, I’d straighten his room enough to keep a pathway to the door, but not so much that he’d know I’d done it.
Once I picked up an old McDonald’s bag and found his wallet in it. Another time I found five one-hundred-dollar bills in an old Atlas. And yes, I kept them. Sorry to disappoint you. I had bills to pay.
Well, Bill finally had to admit he was hiding money, but only because he’d hidden it so well, he needed my help to find it. Someone had sent him a check for $5,000. He’d cashed it (didn’t deposit it because I’d see it on the bank records), spent a thousand (probably gave it to some homeless guy), and couldn’t find the rest.
Four thousand dollars!
I looked through everything! I finally came to the conclusion that I’d missed it in a McDonald’s bag and it was languishing somewhere in the local landfill. When Bill passed away my daughter, Rebecca, and I looked again. We unfolded every paper, opened every book, looked in every shoe. We finally gave up. We took what was salvageable: pictures, mementos, books, office supplies; gave away his clothes; and cleaned out the room.
That was 2009.
Rebecca and her husband, Doug, are planning to move, so they’ve been going through everything in preparation for a yard sale. My son-in-law is a little like his father-in-law was in his youth (don’t tell him I said that). He’s one of those people who has to have perfect order: everything straight and neat as a pin. He can’t stand anything to be askew.
Anyway, he was gathering things for the yard sale and came across a box of small envelopes. Some of them were crooked, and, of course, that would never do! He pulled out the envelopes to straighten them.
My husband had found the perfect hiding place!
Rebecca had taken the box of envelopes when we cleaned out the house—eight years earlier. She says she never uses small envelopes.
She and Doug had moved two times since her dad died. Imagine how many times in those eight years Becca and Doug had walked by that box of envelopes sitting on a desk or shelf, having no idea what was in it. If not for her tidy husband, she would have sold the envelopes for 10 cents in the yard sale, and someone else would have a funny family story.
And, yes, I split the money with Doug. He deserved it, and he’s my favorite son-in-law. Of course, he’s my only son-in-law, but I love him like a son.
Why didn’t Rebecca and I find that money?
Because we got tired and gave up. Because we weren’t sure that it was there. And possibly because we didn’t value the prize enough. $4,000 was a lot of money to me back then. Still is, but maybe if it had been $4,000,000 we would have literally torn the house apart board by board. Was the prize worth the effort it would have taken to find it?
Now, you know there’s a lesson in this story.
Do we value Jesus enough to seek Him until we find Him? Do we want to know Him enough to do whatever we have to do to get closer to Him?
Matthew 13:44-46 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it.”
These men were willing to give up everything they had because they saw the value of the treasures they had found. Of course, the treasures in this scripture represent Christ.
What kind of value do we attach to our relationship with Jesus?
He’s the hidden treasure. He’s the pearl of great price. What is so important that we wouldn’t give everything we have to own Him? What do we value more than His presence in our lives?
The Apostle Paul was what we would call a “big shot.” He went to the best schools, held a high position in government, was an up-and-coming golden boy among the Pharisees. He was tasked with stopping the movement which sprang from a Jew who was crucified and reported by his followers as having risen from the dead. He ended up becoming a follower of that Jew named Jesus. He lost his position and everything he had. And he counted it as nothing.
Philippians 3:8 “. . . I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [ and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him–a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ.” Amplified.
Paul said he counted everything loss compared to the priceless privilege of KNOWING CHRIST. Of becoming more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him.
Everything else is garbage.
There are a few people I pray for regularly who are “seekers.” They’re honest in their search for the truth. I always pray that God will reveal the beauty of His Son to them. When they see His beauty, they’ll love Him. They won’t be able to help themselves.
I’m not telling you to give up things, so you can find Christ. I’m telling you that when you find Christ, you’ll give up things. There’s a difference. We Christians usually get the cart before the horse.
Rules and regulations do not help us to become better acquainted with Christ. Actually, they do just the opposite.
The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
So how do we go about getting to know Jesus better? The same way we get to know anyone. We spend time with Him. We talk with Him. We study Him.
Remember the WWJD bracelets? What Would Jesus Do? How do we figure that out?
When you really know someone, you know what motivates them.
What motivated Jesus?
Love was at the core of everything He did. If we truly get to KNOW Jesus, we’ll see how much He loves us. We’ll want Him more than anything else in our lives because He loves us so much. And we’ll want to share Him with others.
Let’s seek Jesus like He’s the greatest treasure in the world. He is!
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