Sunday, 22 Feb, 2015.
Today was to be a day of rest. This isn’t just because it’s Sunday, but because I genuinely had no plans or obligations. Today’s page in my diary is astoundingly blank, and this is such a rare occurrence that it seems almost unnatural to me.
Early tomorrow, Monday, I’ve promised to be sixty-five miles from here. It’s something I do gladly, willingly and quite regularly. Without going into detail, the task I perform in driving a one hundred and thirty mile round-trip several times a week is done in Jesus’s name and is performed as a service to someone who serves Him. And if the M42 descends into high-speed tail-gating insanity, as it usually does at that early hour of the morning, then I know all the sleepy back-routes to ensure my companion and I get to where we need to be in one piece.
Tuesday is the day I pay my rent. The cash is in an envelope and secreted in the button-up inside pocket of my trench coat.
Wednesday I’m expecting one of those irregular and intermittent paycheques we freelancers strive for.
These four very different days, taken one day at a time, seem broadly unconnected. And I do tend to live my life on a purely day-to-day basis; I’ve had a rather Matthew 6:34 view of life since 2010 and have led a full and happy life these past five years, I’m sure, because of it.
But today I encountered a bit of a moral conundrum when a trouble of today threatened to become a worry for tomorrow and a major problem by Tuesday which looking forward to Wednesday would not solve.
This particular today’s trouble was of the engine kind; my car broke down this afternoon. Whilst cruising at a mercifully slow pace within inner-city congestion, after a delightful afternoon of twitching, my car suddenly lurched and then stopped dead, though thankfully not too far from home.
Getting anyone sixty-five miles away from here tomorrow morning, via chaotic motorway or sleepy rural roads, was suddenly a problem for tomorrow I simply had to worry about today. I made the necessary phone call and, before long, was towed to a professional mechanic’s workshop. There, in the space of just a few hours, while I paced to-and-fro, chain-smoking and guzzling tea like an angst-ridden relative outside an operating theater, Monty the Mechanic had replaced all the dead bits of the engine with shiny new bits. Monty didn’t mind having his Sunday late-afternoon disturbed by coming to my rescue, partly because he’s a friend of my dad’s but mostly because, even at mate’s rates, he earned himself quite a bundle.
The thing is I had to dip into Tuesday’s rent money to pay Monty his well-earned wage today. In solving tomorrow’s problem, Tuesday was suddenly a major worry. For want of a nail a horseshoe was lost… came to mind, and I reassured myself that having my car roadworthy for tomorrow morning was a priority.
Now, I never pay my rent late because, quite frankly, like many private tenants, I dare not. So, holding back payment of my rent ‘til Wednesday, when I can cash that cheque and make up the sudden short-fall was not an option.
In fact, as I gave my Tuesday situation considerable and worried thought, it became obvious to me that my only option was to borrow some money. To turn to a corporate money-lender on, of all days, a Sunday made me squirm with discomfort as I recalled Jesus loosing His cool that time when he found money-changers in the temple. And here was I, on a Sunday, becoming a client to the spiritual descendants of those lenders. I’ve been debt-free for many years, but decided that it would be better to owe money consensually to a lender today than to a landlord through a broken promise on Tuesday.
And so, with nagging doubt and a heavy heart, I signed on the dotted line and took the loaned cash. It had to be done today, even though today is Sunday which makes it feel doubly inappropriate, because if the loan application had been declined I’d still be left with tomorrow to form a plan-b. I felt that I really had no option; I’d paid Monty the Mechanic with rent money, now I’d have to pay the rent with borrowed money, and pay back the borrowed money with earned money come Wednesday.
I knew an old lady who swallowed a fly… I recalled the rhyme with a sigh of resignation; the tale of a small problem being made much worse with seemingly logical quick-fix solutions. Had I done the right thing? It had, after all, turned out to be an eventful, challenging, trying and fretful Sunday afternoon rather than the lazy one I had expected. I then remembered, without humour, another old saying; the devil finds work for idle hands. Suddenly I felt that I had made a rash mistake and that in worrying about tomorrow – in being somewhat panicked into what I thought was a no-choice situation – perhaps I had stored up all sorts of trouble for the near future.
As I sat at home this evening and quietly reflected on the events of this plan-free and obligation-free Sunday of mine, I asked myself if I could perceive God’s hand in this chain of events. The answers came thick and fast, and, I’m pleased to say, were immensely reassuring. Had I not spent my free time in idle bird-watching this afternoon my car would have remained unused until tomorrow morning, and the minor annoyance of a brake-down near home on a lazy Sunday afternoon would have become an immensely inconvenient stranding on an arse-end-of-nowhere country back-road or – far worse – a catastrophic engine failure at seventy miles an hour on the motorway tomorrow morning. Suddenly I felt blessed… protected, even.
But what of the money situation? I’d spent cash strictly reserved for rent to ensure that my passenger gets to where she needs to be tomorrow morning to…
…ah, yes, to do His work in His name.
After reflection and prayer I feel that the brief debt, the day it was borrowed and when it gets paid back is all just a means to a very justifiable end. Monty the Mechanic is paid in full. Tuesday my rent will be paid in full and on time. Wednesday a cheque will clear and a finance company can have their loan back with interest…
…in fact, by Wednesday I’ll have rendered therefore unto Caesar three times in just four days to ensure that tomorrow I can play my part, in some small way, in giving to God what is His.
And now I think I can return to my customary Matthew 6:34 frame of mind. Today’s worries are over, and tomorrow is another Spirit-led day.