Janice and I have a framed envelope hanging in our house. This envelope is unassuming; it has no return address, no first name, a misspelled last name, and 88 cents postage due. Yet it is a vivid reminder of God’s answers to prayer.
The Missing Billfold
On a September Saturday in 2000, while yard saling with our daughter Jaime, Janice laid her billfold down for but a moment. When she reached to pick it up, it was gone. She searched the table, looked under the table and scanned the table once more, but no billfold. Grabbing Jaime’s arm, she pleaded, “Have you seen my billfold?” Jaime shook her head and Janice felt a knot deep in her stomach as she realized that someone had stolen her billfold. It contained not only her driver’s license but $500 of cashier’s checks.
When Janice arrived home, she was in tears. As I held her, she whispered, “I am going to report this to the Sheriff’s Department, but first we must pray.” Together we prayed a simple request that we could get that billfold back. Then, before heading toward the sheriff’s office, Janice called her mother in Mt Vernon and her friend Jean Alice to ask for more prayer.
Then she was gone and I was alone and I must confess that I was in no mood to pray. “What good will it do?” I asked myself. “We will never see that billfold again.” Yet I was struck with the notion that I should pray that the thief would feel so guilty that she would return it. I later learned that Doris (Janice’s mom) and Jean Alice had also prayed that exact same prayer.
The next day, Doris called, “Have you got that billfold back yet?”
“Well, no,” I replied, “but I didn’t really expect anything to show up this soon.”
“Joe! We have been praying and believing that Janice is going to get that billfold back and you ought to be believing it too!”
Feeling properly chastised, I murmured, “You’re right, Doris. Thanks for reminding me.”
Still, I didn’t really believe that we would see that billfold again. But, borrowing some of my Mother-in-law’s faith, I left the possibility open in my mind.
By the time the mail arrived on Monday, Janice and I were both thinking something special might happen. The doorbell rang and the mailman held the envelope, requesting the 88 cents due. Janice paid him and glided through the house waving her treasure. With trembling hands, she opened the envelope and there it was, complete with driver’s license and cashier’s checks! No notes. No explanation. Just the billfold.
After shouting, dancing and crying, we called our partners in prayer to report our good fortune.
And, seemingly, that is the end of the story. Yet as I marveled at Doris’ faith and God’s goodness, a thought hit me: of course God was able to return what we lost. To do so is the very essence of his being. Adam “lost” mankind’s right standing with God and God got it back. Each of us was lost and God sought us and found us. Jesus proclaimed his mission as, “the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
How about You?
So God, I believe, is asking each of us this question, “What have you lost?” It could be a dream that you have given us on. Perhaps an estranged child. Maybe a talent that you failed to utilize or a joy that has faded with time. It could be a tanked investment or a job that you were counting on. Whatever it is, don’t give up! Our God wants to find these things and give them back to you. Give him a chance, for it is what he does best.
Our framed envelope is a constant reminder.
What have you lost? Do you feel like giving up? What gives you hope?