It was the middle of December, I’d not decorated, and I was feeling guilty. During my childhood, we gave the house its holiday look the day after Thanksgiving. This year was different. I had neither holiday spirit nor the energy to decorate. Also, my heart was heavy, because of limited funds reflected by my checkbook balance that morning.
I’d had excellent health until a few months before. Even though I’d seen several specialists, I still had no definitive diagnosis. The “within normal parameters” test results proclaimed by each doctor discouraged me. Would anyone diagnosis my problem correctly?
I just knew that it was becoming more difficult for me to continue in my office job as I developed more heightened sensitivities for second-hand smoke and fragrances, particularly perfume. My job performance became poorer and my absenteeism excessive. Finally, my boss and I decided I should resign.
With dwindling severance pay and no job offers, I became a temporary office worker. My counselor, considerate of my health challenges, assigned me to one-girl offices where I wouldn’t encounter smokers. Those assignments typically lasted a week or two. At first I thrived on the challenge of getting used to a new “boss,” procedures and equipment every week or every other, but the fascination quickly waned. My heart longed for the stability of a “real” job and identity within a permanent office setting. Being referred to as “the temp” annoyed me.
At the beginning of December I’d had an ear and throat infection missing several days of work. With the slower holiday mail delivery, I realized my smaller paycheck wouldn’t arrive in time to pay my health insurance. My morning’s glimpse at my checkbook balance had confirmed that. Since I couldn’t let the insurance lapse, I did what came naturally. I prayed. “Lord, please provide the needed money.”
Feeling better and knowing that He was in control of the provision, I took out our tabletop Christmas tree. I’d started to wind the lights around the branches when someone knocked on the front door. When I opened it, I was startled to see two of my church’s deacons. Quickly recovering, I smiled, opened the door, and invited them in.
They sat down across from me, obviously uncomfortable. Sitting on the edge of their chairs, they fidgeted, played with their gloves, and looked at the floor. Their nervous expressions didn’t encourage me. “What was going on? Had I done something?” I wondered.
After what seemed an interminable silence, John finally asked, “Any job prospects?”
“No. I’m still looking,” I glumly responded.
By then, John worked up courage to plunge ahead. “As a member of the church, Joyce, you know about the deacon’s fund.” I nodded, and he continued.
“The deacons met with pastor this morning to pray who the recipient of the fund should be this year. The Lord brought your name to each of us.”
He then withdrew an envelope from his pocket and handed it to me.
To their surprise, I took it and thanked them. They visibly relaxed, leaning back in their chairs and crossing their legs.
I then shared my morning prayer. Their eyes revealed astonishment, and they smiled widely at each other and then me as they realized the check I held was the answer to that prayer.
Frank then timidly told me he and John discussed my possible reaction on their way to my house. They expected me to be insulted and not accept it, embarrassing each of us. They’d not had time to formulate plan B–what they’d do if I didn’t take it.
I laughed. “Now I understand why you were so nervous.” Sheepishly looking at each other and back at me, their laughter joined mine.
Frank then prayed, thanking God for His provision and asking for a full time job for me. Soon he and John hurried to their car, anxious to drive to church to share with pastor the unexpected result of their visit.
After they left, I ripped the envelope open to peek at the check. The amount overwhelmed me. It not only covered my insurance bill and all the gifts on my shopping list, but a turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Still there would be some left. As I ran upstairs to share the visit with Mom, my heart thanked Him for answering my prayer…beyond my expectation.