Thursday, April 9, 2015

Provision and PayPal

Health insurance. Gah! I know I’m not the only one who is frustrated and annoyed with her insurance and what feels like a lack of benefits.

On Tuesday, Dan stopped off at home in the midst of a rain hail storm as he was on his way to a physical therapy appointment. I asked him about how he planned to pay for the appointment, since our Health Savings Account had been tapped dry the week before. We talked about the lack of funds compared to the abundance of bills, and then I bemoaned a bill that had not even been incurred yet: my annual eye exam and contact lenses.

I’ve already made my lenses stretch for as long as possible (Yes, I’m guilty of – gasp! – wearing my daily lenses for more than a day. The horror!), but I’m down to a short supply and it’s time to bite the bullet and order more. While talking with Dan, I said, “The HSA is empty and contacts will cost $300. Where are we going to find that?”

In the back of my head, I already had an answer.

I met with a friend last week and we discussed a regular photography gig. She offered to hire me to photograph property as a part of her job. It intrigued me, and I told her I would pray about it. I tucked the idea into my heart, asked God to mull it over for me and let me know what He thinks I should do. While I don’t think that gig would be my ultimate employment answer, I do think it would provide income while I’m pursuing other callings from God (creative photography, writing, preparing a book). It looked like a good idea to me, but I wanted to sit on it and wait for God to confirm it.

Then bills started huffing at the corner of my shoulder and my unemployment guilt started elbowing me in the ribs a couple extra times. Add in a $300 need for contacts, and I felt like it was time to get back on the horse and pursue that photography gig. Dan left for his appointment before I voiced any of this, but I figured I could approach it with him later that night.

I went about my morning and tackled my To Do list. One of the tasks involved ordering a copy of a sports identification card so Katie can play on her softball team. Payment was required through PayPal, so I logged into my account to make sure I had the $5 to cover the order. The last time I checked, the account balance was less than $20. I figured I had at least $5 left. I was wrong.

The account balance was $300. Let me repeat that: THE ACCOUNT BALANCE WAS THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Immediately, my mind raced back through past transactions and I couldn’t think of any reason there would be $300 in my account. I opened the screen that lists every transaction for the last 14 months, and got out my calculator and did the math. THREE TIMES. I should only have $16 in that account! So I called PayPal and spoke to a woman named Sandra. I started by saying I don’t understand my account balance. I’m pretty sure she must have flinched, because her response to my next words (“There’s money there that wasn’t there before!”) was: “Oh! Usually people call in here mad, but you’re not mad!” I chuckled and told her I wasn’t mad, but I needed her to help me understand how this money appeared. She went through the transactions too, and said the $300 is legit and I must have forgotten some money from long ago. Regardless of where it came from, the $300 is actually mine and I can spend it. I sputtered, “But there’s no way to explain how it got there!” She again confirmed that it IS there and it’s not a mistake.

Then I told her I was just talking to my husband about medical bills and needing $300, and she said, “Girl, the Lord works in mysterious ways!” To which I replied, “Amen, sister! He really does! I can’t believe He even works through PayPal!” I’m pretty sure our call was the highlight of her day, because it was definitely mine!

And now, there is a $295 balance in my PayPal account. (I used $5 to pay for the ID card, remember?) But even more than the $295, I received something of much greater value: I had a specific need and God gave me a specific answer. “I will provide for you, Elizabeth. Do not go running off, searching out your own solutions to problems. Sit. Wait. Give me time to work and I will bless you in ways that don’t make sense and can’t be proven with math or scientific reasoning or logic. I AM and I am providing for you. Trust me, dear one!”

In my life, I’ve heard people tell stories about being in financial need and God bailing them out in ways that seem “random” (unclaimed money or a neighbor dropping off a “random” gift card or a long-forgotten I.O.U. that gets paid or an anonymous donor paying for Lyme Disease treatment). I love hearing stories like that because it is always obvious to me that God isn’t random and His provision isn’t a coincidence. It’s an easy thing for me to say when a person is telling me a story about their “coincidence.” But when the “coincidence” happens to ME and God gives me a first-person reminder that He is taking care of me in ways I didn’t even bother to ask Him to, my mind is blown and I am left shaking my head in wonder at His might and majesty.

Later that day, I told a friend about finding God’s provision through PayPal and explained to her how I had been on the verge of taking on a new gig as my solution to a problem. She wisely pointed out that God is telling me to sit still and keep waiting through this unemployment, and He will lead me to the place He has prepared for me. It doesn’t mean this gig is a NO, but it does mean I don’t have to keep running around making my own answers to problems without waiting for God to confirm it first.

I can’t explain how thankful I am that God is a persistent God who speaks in ways meant only for me. He is generous, patient, and faithful to keep His promises to provide! (Psalm 54:4, Jer. 29:11)  And while I know $300 is merely a drop in the bucket (some people are in much greater need) and we aren’t in dire straits and we will get by, it’s reassuring and encouraging to know that God cares about even the smallest worries that stick like Velcro to my soul. Thank You, Abba!

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