When Les and I got married, he was still a college student, working as the unglamorous “chicken boy” at a high-end meat store. I was working at Wanamaker’s department store as a mininum-wage saleswoman (probably salesgirl in those days—both age-wise and cultural-language-wise). We had no money.
As we sped away for our honeymoon, I sat in the passenger seat, with all the “Congratulations on your wedding” cards piled in my lap. I frantically ripped open each one, searching for cash. “Yay, 25 dollars,” I yelled, scribbling a big 25 on the outside envelope. “Bummer, a check.” And on it went, collecting the cash that would finance our low-budget honeymoon.
This week, after celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary, I pulled out all the cards and photographed them for posterity before disposing of them. But on seeing the hastily marked envelopes, I decided they needed their own picture, the one I’ve shared above.
While Les went through seminary, we knew some tough times. We’ve also known some financially fruitful times due to my jobs. And all the way through this has been true: A surprise financial gift is always a treat.
I’m thankful to see that our stimulus check should arrive soon. And I’ll bet you were happy to see yours if it’s already arrived. Or like me you’re looking forward to it with anticipation. Maybe, like me, you’ve ended up on unemployment, and the anticipated $600 pandemic unemployment supplement feels like a major blessing.
I don’t know your financial status. (I can barely keep track of mine.) I don’t know how this quarantine time has changed your life. Or what life was like before this.
Maybe your expenses are much higher. Maybe having those college students home is doubling your food bill—and there is no stimulus check for them. Perhaps you’ve lost commission or tips or other income that doesn’t get made up for in any government program. Maybe a member of your family has had COVID-19 and you’re anticipating huge medical bills. Perhaps you’ve been barely making ends meet and unexpected bills were piling up before COVID-19 ever arrived.
But perhaps this “free money” is truly a bonus for you. It pads your bank account. Or it pays for a treat you’ve always wanted to buy. Maybe it’s headed for the kids’ college fund or the down payment on a home.
It’s your money, fair and square. And mine is mine. We get to choose where it gets spent. Can I encourage you, though, to recognize it as a true gift from God and to ask him how he might want to use a portion (or all!) of it to encourage someone else?
Generosity is a gift you get to give and receive. It was Jesus himself who said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” according to the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:35). How does God wish to use you?
Here are some giving options to pray about:
- A 10% (or more) tithe to your church (which is likely hurting as we’ve taken church online)
- Someone you know who has suffered financially in recent months or years who could use a cash boost
- Food banks and homeless shelters in your area that are seeing a dramatic increase in need
- A missionary who is low on support and cannot visit churches during the quarantine to raise additional funds
- A favorite charity whose banquet or run or other fundraiser has been cancelled
- Your alma mater that has needed to refund room and board while scrambling to move everything online
- Your town’s pandemic fund to keep small businesses alive as life reopens slowly
- A now-closed arts association that brings joy to your life through theater, dance, or the visual arts
- Gifts for “essential workers” you know made up of items you purchase from local small businesses
The possibilities are endless. Only you can decide what you can afford to do and how and where to invest your money. And none of us ever needs to know.
I encourage you to #SharetheStimulus and see how it gladdens your heart rather than just your wallet.