So I’m sitting on a bus in North Charleston, and a young man gets on. After a minute of rummaging through his dozen or so pockets up and down the legs of his droopy pants, he comes up empty-handed: No money for the fare. As I sit watching him, God tells me to take the $5 in my purse and pay his fare. My initial gut response is “NO WAY!”, since the fare is only $2 and putting in a $5 is the kind of excess that blows my very tight budget and messes with my daughter-of-two-accountants’ head. God tells me again to pay his fare (more insistent this time), letting me know that I’ll get it back, so I get up and give the driver my $5 bill. The young man, who’d been on the verge of being kicked off the bus, has now secured a seat and a transfer to get wherever he’s going. He gives me a smile and a thanks, and I sit down and enjoy the rest of the ride.
When the bus arrives at its final destination in Charleston, I hop off and cross the street to get a connecting bus. As I’m crossing, a $5 bill gently blows across my path. I reach down and pick it up. Then God says “See? I told you I’d give it back to you.”
Five dollar bills are the new pennies from Heaven. I find them frequently and usually just when I need them. One summer I was out cycling with a friend in the early evening. I hadn’t brought my purse with me and I wanted to buy a few treats at the store. So I asked my friend if I could borrow $5. He said he hadn’t brought his wallet, so that was that. No treats for me.
As I was cycling back to where I was staying that night, I crossed through a grocery store parking lot. A $5 bill blew into my path. I stopped and picked it up, and went into the store and got my treats.
Just a few days ago, I again found a $5 bill. It was in front of a grocery store. I hadn’t found a $5 bill in a while. I’d been thinking about the fact that I hadn’t found a $5 bill in a while, after hearing a pastor mention, in an online sermon, that he and some of his parishioners frequently found $5 bills just when they needed them. So I said to God, why haven’t I found any $5 bills lately? And a few days later, I find a $5 bill.
It’s a little game God plays with us. For me, it reminds me of my grandfather who died when I was 5 years old. One day I was playing hide-and-seek under a bed at my grandparents’ house and found a nickel (5 cent piece). In those days, a nickel could still buy a big bag of candy, so I felt like an instant candy millionaire. But it wasn’t my nickel; it belonged to my grandparents. So I showed the nickel to my grandfather, wanting to give it to him, but he looked at me very solemnly and said: “You can keep it.” That is the last thing I remember of my grandfather, as he died of a heart attack that night.
Whenever I find a nickel, I think of my grandfather. I find them quite frequently and in the oddest of places. A few days before I was born again, I found a whole line of nickels in the sand on the beach near the very spot where I would be exorcised and healed. There were dozens of nickels, and I took them all. After I was born again and started finding $5 bills everywhere, I used to joke with God that, with inflation, $5 was the new nickel. At one point in my life (about 10 years ago) when I was homeless and unemployed, I would find $5 almost daily. Those bills would pay for my food and water and would show up in the most unlikely of places, including a deserted graveyard and, astoundingly, underneath my foot as I stopped my bike at a stop sign.
God looks after us in every possible way, giving us what we need if not necessarily what we want (though sometimes both, as a treat). While we’re on Earth, our needs are physical as well as spiritual. We need money. Mind you, we don’t need as much money as we think we need, but we need some. So if we’re at a point where we’re not earning any or not earning enough, God provides, the same way as he sent ravens to bring food to Elijah in the wilderness during a famine or put a gold coin in the fish’s mouth to pay the tax that was being demanded of Jesus.
The good Lord provides, as my grandmother used to say.
That he does.