Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: FUSSY (11/17/16)
By Gary Ritter
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He’d been at his computer for the last two hours at the behest of his boss. “I want these accounts brought up to date,” he’d ordered. “No more deadbeats. Everybody pays what they owe or we foreclose!”
The ulcer that Albert tried to keep in check with milk and Zantac sent a sharp pain through his stomach. He’d found a deadbeat alright, and the thought of confronting the culprit caused his heartburn to blaze brighter. Albert got up to pace and fortify himself. His boss didn’t expect that Albert would just make a phone call. Oh, no. “You’ll go to their offices and tell them to their face. ‘Pay up or lose your building.’ ”
Albert rearranged the pens on his desk and set the computer mouse just so. He took several moments to settle his nerves with his eyes closed. Somebody had said Transcendental Meditation could bring him peace. Sit and say, “Om.” He tried that for a minute, but his fingers started twitching again, and he gave up. Was there anything more at his desk he could do before going? No. A feeling of dread followed him to his car.
At the church, he told the secretary he’d come to see Pastor Mason. As a representative of the lender for the church loan, Albert knew the pastor would see him. In fact, the pastor welcomed him into his office more warmly than he deserved.
Because he wanted to get this over with, Albert didn’t waste any time. “Pastor Mason, your loan is past due three months for the third time. We at Church Funding Forever have been as charitable as possible, but our agreement states that under such circumstances we can call the loan due and payable. That’s what we must do and begin foreclosure unless you pay us completely. Is there any way you can pay off the loan?”
Mason’s chair squeaked as he sat back. “God will provide.”
“That’s all well and good, but how will you pay?”
“We’ll pray, and God will provide.”
“That’s nice, but you owe us five million dollars. How will you pay it all off?”
For the third time the pastor reiterated, “God will supply the funds.”
Albert was beside himself. “I don’t think you understand, sir. You must come up with the full amount or CFF will take your building.” He swept his arm around. “Everything.”
Mason smiled. “I trust God and know that He’ll receive the glory.”
The bitter taste in Albert’s throat made him queasy. “I have to go. I’ll return Friday to begin proceedings or,” he snorted with derision, “accept your check.”
That night Albert told his wife, “I hate playing the tough guy. All I want to do is examine numbers, not pretend I’m some mob enforcer.”
“I’m sure you’ll do fine, dear.” She patted him on the cheek and left for the mall with one of her girlfriends.
Friday came, and with it Albert, feeling like a dark angel, arrived at the church. Pastor Mason waved him in as he hung up the phone. “Welcome, Albert.”
“You know why I’m here?”
“Do you have the money?”
“Not yet, but God—“
“I know, I know...’will provide.’ ” Albert reached into his briefcase to bring out the papers he wished he didn’t have to serve.
The church secretary came to the door. “Excuse me, Pastor, there’s someone to see you. Says it’s very important.”
Mason gave an apologetic shrug. “Have him come in.”
An older man in tattered jeans and worn flannel shirt, hat in hand entered. “Sorry to bother you, Pastor.”
“Do I know you?”
“No sir. Never been to church in my life. But I’ve been having the oddest experience lately. Seems like God’s been talking to me.”
He scratched his head, and Albert shrank away, fearful the man had lice.
“It’s like this.” The man reached into his back pocket and brought out an envelope. “Been saving some money over the years. Guess God wants me to give it to you. Got cashiers’ checks here for five million dollars. Hope that’s okay.
Pastor Mason rose and went to hug the man. “You have been hearing God because you’re an answer to prayer. Thank you for being faithful.”
Albert, with open mouth, accepted the checks as payment in full.
I heard the essence of this true story when Pastor Jim Cymbala of Brooklyn Tabernacle spoke at a recent seminar. It seemed like a fun incident to write about from another POV character for the Challenge. The bottom line is how faithful God is to meet the needs of those who devote themselves to prayer.
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