I remember a time someone said to me, “Penny for your thoughts?”, I responded with, “My thoughts are worth far more than a penny”. Needless to say, I thought I was funny, the other person did not.
I have a lot of thoughts; I have a lot of worries. Recently on a Monday evening I found myself overwhelmed by them. A full course load, starting practicum, school loans, schedule conflicts, and feeling like there was no way I was going to get it all done were all shouting in my face. I prayed aloud in the car, “Lord, you are going to have to fight for me, this is your loan and you are going to provide for it. You have me in the program for a reason, and that is on you. Help me be diligent to keep my expenses down, and leave the rest to you”.
I was headed to a laundromat I had never been to before because it was close to where I was due to dropping something off at a friend’s house. I had thirteen dollars for the washer and dryers and that was usually enough for where I normally did my laundry.
I carried my basket in, changed the bills to quarters and noticed the prices were higher than I was expecting. Small washers, $3, large washers, $6, dryers $1.50 for thirty minutes. I had a boatload of towels and some clothes, so all in I was at $9 for the washers.
I sat down and read my textbook while I waited. A woman sitting a little down from me was on her phone using the speaker function. Praying for the supernatural love of Jesus to replace my rage, I continued reading.
When I changed the clothes to the dryers, I was certain the high setting would allow the towels to be mostly dry and I had no question the non towels in the other dryer would be dry in a half hour’s time if not before. I was wrong. As I checked the clothes, I saw my last four quarters dwindle and I needed more and more drying time. I went out to my car, got the Aldi quarter, then I found one in my purse and, two dimes and one nickel.
As the inevitable happened I found myself asking a woman who was leaving if she had a quarter for two dimes and a nickel. She said I could just have the quarter. I thanked her and placed it in the dryer. A little while later, a man was packing up his things and I went and said, “Excuse me, do you have an extra quarter if I give you two dimes and a nickel?” He gave me three quarters. Humbled, I thanked him and prayed a silent prayer of thanks, knowing I was going to keep track of the money I was given to post about it on social media somewhere.
As the evening went on, I still needed quarters, the woman who had been talking on speaker was now folding her laundry. As I was still needing time, I asked if she had a quarter for two dimes and a nickel. She told me she has a washer and dryer at home but prefers the speed of commercial washers and dryers. She does not need to go up and down steps either and that was worth it to her. Not knowing what would possess someone to choose a laundromat I wondered if she was telling me a story to distract from the question until she gave me five quarters. In my head I could not wait to tell about how God had supplied $2.25 for an unexpected laundry miscalculation.
As I continued to wait and she continued to fold, she neared the end of her time at the laundromat and I still was not sure the towels would be dry. Before she left, she asked if I still needed quarters. I said I might, but I would be fine. She handed me her bag of quarters and said it was nice talking and I should have a nice evening.
I was overwhelmed by the kindness of multiple strangers, the generosity of the woman whose phone I wanted to throw out the door, and the realization I cannot keep track of God’s blessings. I lost count of the dollars I was given that night. And truthfully, it does not matter. My prayer in the car was answered in part by this interaction. I still have school loans; I have expenses I have no idea how God is going to provide. I also have no doubt I am to be in this program and the blessing of being debt free I needed to give up to be part of this program has been a lesson in faith for me. He has it, one quarter at a time in loads so overwhelming, I cannot keep count.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain undeniable rights. That among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is included in The Declaration of Independence (US 1776.)”
The truth is the world got it wrong. Something that God quickly began to teach me as I attempted to watch the well-known movie The Pursuit of Happiness. As we embark on what is easily the most hostile election year to date, it is evident we need to pursue what Jesus instructed from the first day of his ministry. We need to pursue the Kingdom of God.
As Christians, too often we associate ourselves and our circumstances with the pursuit of things that make us happy or feel good. This takes us away from the purpose of God in our lives. Happiness by definition comes from the root word, hap – which means luck, chance, or fortune. This sets the way to create an idol in our lives, one that causes us to focus on the pleasures of life and the circumstances that surround them. Take note this is something God clearly speaks about in Isaiah 65:8-12. This is even true when it comes to the election and voting for a person who makes you feel good, or even secure and happy, not necessarily what lines up with the will of God.
Does that mean that God’s will is for us to never be happy? By no means. Quite the opposite in fact. God wants us to be happy. Jesus preaches it very much so in Matt 5:3-12 commonly known as the beatitudes. Take note, however, this sermon is preached as characteristics for those who have entered into the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4:17). ‘Blessed’ in Greek means happy and in Aramaic means prosperous. What does that mean for us? It means that in order to be really happy (blessed), we need to pursue God and His Kingdom. Deeper than that, seeking God, staying in His will, produces joy, and that is something that is not dependent on circumstances, it is indwelling and solely dependent upon God.