Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Personal Peace (06/01/06)
TITLE: BANK STATEMENT
By Carol Sanford
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“How many times have I hit that snooze button?” I wondered, as I groggily lifted myself to an upright position. The number was irrelevant because it was definitely “time to rise and shine” as my mother would say. Getting out of bed, I thought of her again. Could it possibly be almost seven years since she died?
Minutes later, sipping coffee and reading the newspaper, I noticed a small headline: “Consolidated Savings & Loan Closing Its Doors.” I remembered that Mom still had an account there. “I guess I should call Mr. Williams,” I thought. At once, I realized that if the attorney was as slow with this as he was settling the rest of the estate, the money would be forever floating in the ozone. I decided it was best to handle the matter myself. A few hours later, I called the bank and was amazed at the ease with which I was able to conduct the transaction.
In about two weeks, a check for over six thousand dollars arrived payable to me even though it actually belonged to my older brother. I deposited the full sum into my savings account, brushing aside the guilty feelings that tugged at my heart. I had a right, as the executrix, to choose the best way to disperse the money. I was the more deserving child; always there when Mom needed me. Besides, I reasoned, I could always send it to him later.
Months passed. My husband, son, and I wanted to take a vacation. We flew across the country to visit this same sibling and his family. Having a brainstorm, I figured we could use my brother’s money to finance the trip. It was perfect. I believed my mother would be pleased if she knew.
We all had a memorable time together. My brother was delighted that we came. After all, it was quite an expensive excursion. I smiled and assured him it was no problem at all.
Summer days waned. A bright brisk autumn followed. Occasionally, I thought about the bank account, and continued to disregard my nagging conscience. I forgot about it completely as festivities of the Christmas season gave way to a harsh, frigid winter and the sudden death of my brother’s wife.
Once more, we boarded a plane bound for the west coast; this time to attend my sister- in-law’s memorial service. My brother appreciated our presence. Telling myself it was God’s provision, I used his money to pay our expenses.
Time continued. I was busy with my family, working outside the home, and serving in the church. Outwardly, all was well. However, I noticed myself often contemplating the situation, even waking up in the middle of the night. Like a ship refusing to leave port, my thoughts were anchored on my brother and his money. I knew what I could do. I would send him a check for the full amount minus the two trips. That should cover it.
However, I did nothing…
Instead, I focused my energy on a Bible study about yielding everything to God. The topic was appealing, promising a closer walk with Jesus Christ. This was exactly what I desired. One morning, ready to begin the first lesson, I settled myself comfortably in my favorite living room chair. The initial step was for me to honestly search my heart to discover if there was anything I was keeping back from the Lord, any hindrance in my walk with Him. I started to pray. Conviction nudged me in a whisper. Paying no attention, I continued. The murmur within became louder with a force I couldn’t define. Still I pressed on. In moments, the noise became blaring…roaring…deafening…
“Lord, I’m sorry,” I cried out. “I’ll pay it all back!”
Immediately, my soul was silenced. Welcome quietness pervaded the room. Relief washed over me. A calm I hadn’t known in months encompassed me…a peace that comes only through surrender and obedience…
I mailed his check the same day.
A week later, my brother called to thank me for his unexpected windfall. It had come at just the right time. I smiled into the phone and said softly, “No problem at all.”
“He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13 NIV
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