A chance remark by the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage threw Yours Truly into a dismal panic this past week. Believe me, there is nothing pretty about panic in the parsonage. This idle comment turned my week into a topsy-turvy affair of which I am still trying to recuperate.
My wife’s, somewhat innocent remark was, “Have you balanced the checkbook lately?”
Obviously, the response was an emphatic NO!
However, and this is a big however, I did not want her to know of my dereliction of duty, so I mumbled something rather incoherent. This ploy never works with my wife although I have tried it under a wide variety of situations. Why I persist in this is a mystery of iniquitous proportions.
“What did you say,” she demanded.
I must say, when she demanded I quickly, if not humbly, remanded and confessed my negligence. To which, in her own quiet way, suggested I repair this awkward situation.
Nothing would do but I tackle the job straight away. I tried to find something, anything, to do instead of this job. I even prayed for some calamity, any calamity, to demand my personal attention. But, alas, no such luck loomed in my direction.
Why is it, whenever I have something important I want to do, something always happens to draw me away or prevent me from pursuing it? When I need a distraction, there is never one in my vicinity.
I did the only thing I could do at the time. I sat me down with my checkbook and the last six months of bank statements (which were never opened) and began the arduous toil of balancing the Parsonage checkbook. With plenty of scratch paper, well-sharpened pencils and my ever-ready calculator I was set to do the job, if it were the last thing on earth I would accomplish.
The first thing on my agenda was opening the bank statements and arrange them according to date. I don’t know why I did it; it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time. After doing this, I got up to stretch for a moment. I never knew balancing the checkbook was so strenuous. While I was up, I thought it prudent to go and get a fresh cup of coffee and a small snack. After all, a person has to keep up his strength on such occasions.
Then, I got right back to work, and not just because my wife caught me in the kitchen. I would have gone back to my desk without her nagging – er – encouragement.
In looking over the statements from the bank, I noticed something. Each monthly statement had a list of fees for that month’s banking activity. No wonder my checkbook balance did not jive with the bank’s balance. They deducted fees from my account and I never even once noted them in my checkbook. In examining the fees, I was stunned. There were fees for everything.
They had a fee for depositing money into my account. A monthly fee just because I had an account with the bank. A fee for depositing money before noon and a different fee for depositing money after noon. Another fee for a cash deposit and still another fee for depositing checks.
They charged me a fee when it was a full moon, a fee when the sun set and another fee when the sun rose in the morning.
By the time I noted all the bank fees on my checking account it was a miracle I had any money left. In checking the bank balance, I didn’t have any money left for which they graciously charged me another fee. Then, they charged me a fee for charging me a fee.
My friendly hometown bank has more fees associated with my bank account than fleas on a West Virginia hound dog.
Finally, I recorded all the fees in my checkbook, and discovered another slight problem.
Several checks, and when I say several I mean 22, had no name or amount attached to them. I surely remember writing them, but now I had no idea to whom and for how much and guessing would not help me here.
Plus, I remember a few ATM transactions, which I did not record in my checkbook.
Notwithstanding these complexities with my checkbook, I forged ahead as best I could. I added all the columns, deposits and payments. I added the columns up at least three times each and all three times, I got a different total. The only thing I could do was take an average.
No matter what I did, I could not get my checkbook to balance with the bank statements. It slowly dawned on me the problem was due to my neglect. Had I kept my checkbook up to date I would not be in this mess.
The only viable solution to my checkbook quandary was to close the account and start all over again.
Sitting there staring at my checkbook I was reminded of a verse of scripture. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV).
Sometimes, the only way to reconcile your life with God’s statement (the Bible) is to start over again. Through God’s mercy and grace, this is possible.
No matter how messed up a person’s personal life may be, and some can become terribly messed up, Jesus Christ can cause “old things” to pass away and start your life over again.
One of the best little benefits of getting married is my husband is a fanatic about keeping the account balanced. The bank has a computerized system you can tap into and he balances after every check. Before the wedding I had my account balanced 4 times. In over 40 years. That was enough wasn’t it?