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Wrong Starting Place, The
by Brenda Kern 
06/04/07
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"No, no, NO!" I said aloud. The numbers were wrong, again.

I'm one of those people who must balance the checkbook, every month, to the penny. Until it balances, I won't let up.

Last month's process was a doozy. I had apparently made two errors: I found the first (for 80 cents, go figure), and that put me closer to the adjusted bank statement amount, but still off, by a dollar.

I checked the starting amount from the statement--got that right. (I've actually copied that incorrectly--isn't that sad?)

I checked the deposited amounts and the total--they looked right.

I checked the pending deductions column, again and again--the same result, again and again.

I ran through my checkbook entries so many times I was going punchy, but still, I was one dollar off.

I finally sat, head in hands, truly flummoxed. "I don't know where to go from here. I don't know what error to look for, let alone how to fix it."

Then, I got creative.

"What if," I asked myself... "What if I'm starting with the wrong number?"

Sure enough, here's what I found: when balancing the statement to the checkbook the previous month, I had made two errors: one on the deductions total--by a dollar, and one in my checkbook, also by a dollar, so that the amounts matched, and I falsely thought I was balanced, good to go, free of that chore for another month.

With that correction made, this month's statement instantly balanced. Hooray!

I breathed a prayer of relief and gratitude, and felt a spiritual nudge.

Hmmm... What could God want me to learn (and share) from this fiasco?

*I should have turned to Him for insight earlier in the process, rather than going it alone.

True, but not all there was to glean.

*Sometimes our errors pile up on us, and we have to go back and correct them, one at a time.

Also true. Keep digging.

What if... what if we start out from the wrong place? Interesting idea. What if we start into our Christian walk (or walk for the day) thinking we're going to be tackling this, and this, and this, and, as necessary, we'll 'call God in at the last minute if we need a miraculous solution'?

Ooh, wrong place to start. You'll be moving along, checking things off a list, and thinking you're having quite the productive day. These efforts and thoughts, however, could be a million miles away from what God intended for you to accomplish for His kingdom today.

And, if you started from the wrong place today, you could be even further "off" in the balancing act that life is tomorrow, and the next tomorrow and the next.

Feeling frustrated and inadequate, possibly burdened by sin, or failure, or guilt? Maybe all you need is to go back and make sure you're starting at the right place--at the feet of Jesus.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30, RSV



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