The God of Winks and Lost Wallets

walletThe Neurotic Self-examination Department sent me a memo today: I haven’t been very personal on my blog lately.

So in the interest of shoring that up, I’m postponing my last Prodigal Son installment. I want to take time to get the theology right anyway.

Besides – I have a story in the meantime. If you want to know the delights of walking with God.

Last summer, I had an illuminating conversation in Subway with an old youth group friend I hadn’t seen in fifteen years. I linked to the story here, but basically, it was me and him ironically discovering we’d both envied the other’s gifts in high school and dismissed our own. It was the kind of talk that blows the lid off your assumptions about your story, leaves you madly reevaluating.

God’s message in it for me: “Stop envying, and stop resenting yourself.”

Like everyone, I’ve got attributes I wish I could change (not sin, just personality), and I’ve not administered those areas a lot of grace. I’ve not always appreciated myself for who God created me to be. I’ve resented myself.

I filed it under “huh…interesting…maybe God wants me to think about this” and moved on with my life.

Fast forward to last month.

I was attending a retreat run by one of my favorite Christian ministries, nestled into the mountains of central Colorado, in the hope that the dramatic vistas and high altitude might leave campers feeling breathlessly close to God. It was not a hope deferred.

I was sitting in one of the later sessions, chaired by an older man veneered with grace, formed by scars only Christ could have healed. As he spoke honestly about the misery of earlier years in ministry and wishing he could be anywhere else(!), he said something that caught me utterly off guard.

“I envied others because I hated myself.”

A sigh escaped my lips. This again! God was serious. His giftings to us should not be resented because we’re down on ourselves; they should be celebrated because they’re from God. I could now see his preparation in the Subway conversation months earlier, setting up this t-ball to hit out of the park later.

But that’s not what’s really a scream about the story. He had a wink book-ending both moments.

You see, that Subway meeting the prior summer had been borne of a – well, it’s too nuts to be called a coincidence. I’d been putzing around at home that day when my church called: “Someone found your wallet.” I automatically did that reflexive slap of each pocket and sure enough – no wallet. I hadn’t realized it was gone. It had been found lying in the middle of the highway after I drove home, right in front of the very laundromat where that old friend of mine was doing laundry. He spotted it in the road, picked it up, recognized my name from eons ago, and phoned the church. That’s how we’d ended up reconnecting at that Subway.

The only explanation: I’d left my wallet on top of my car when I gassed up – in a town ten miles away – and it “waited” to fall off until I drove past that laundromat. Thus leading to the conversation God wanted to have about envy and grace.

Fast forward again to that night at the retreat.

Right after that old saint’s graceful talk, the retreat staff put on a late movie for us: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty with Ben Stiller. And if you’ve seen that film, you know that a crucial plot point revolves around…a lost wallet.

The connection clicked in my mind as I walked to my cabin after the movie. I stopped in my tracks and burst into laughter, on a forest path between cabins in the Colorado wilderness. A couple of guys looked at me funny. I didn’t mind.

A sense of humor and a fierce determination to bring us holiness and freedom.

That’s our God.

It was a glimpse through the veil, a haunting, thrilling echo saying it’s all real, you’re not nuts, God is really right there, and walking with him isn’t boring.

It’s wonderful.

35 thoughts on “The God of Winks and Lost Wallets

  1. Isn’t it so startling and amusing to look back and see how God paints all these little moments into one giant billboard saying “Look!” sometimes? 🙂 Yes, it is so easy to look down on those things that seem strange about is, that we don’t like, all the while forgetting that God has wired us specifically for His purposes! Than you for this reminder and laughter today!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “The Neurotic Self-examination Department” – I was the president of that department once. I specialized in it! Now, I just work there part-time. 😀

    God connects so many of my dots that I cannot deny His presence. I like the personal touch.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Very nice read. I have things too I want to change and have at times felt the same way. But God has a way of making me laugh at myself and that is the key. Loved your glimpse. Well written. Del

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Self loathing is a difficult weed to pull from a soul. Especially when the enemy works so many themes to reinforce negative self image. What’s also difficult, when sorting feelings and ideas, is identifying the source of them – many of which turned out to be religious teachings, sermons and the like. How often upon hearing a message I came away with the message of yet another thing I need to change – which sent me to the Christian book store to procure a self-help book on the subject which did nothing for me except to illuminate more brightly that which I thought needed to change. So came the day that the Holy Spirit commanded me “do not read books”. When I first heard that from Him, Brandon, I thought it had to do entirely with avoiding pharisee yeast – i.e., false doctrine. But upon reading your post this morning, I now understand it had to do with cutting off the voices of men that brought injury to my soul – that heaped up burdens upon me that I couldn’t deal with and no man could help me with.

    In my experience, what the Savior tells me about me, is altogether different and more affirming, than what men tell me about me. You see, I was trying to change things within me, that HE had formed, because men were telling me those very same things, were bad. For example, the Lord called me to Himself, and when I told men what the Lord was calling me to, they said it was bad. When I did as the Lord asked, men called it resisting authority.

    There are things the Lord wanted to show me about myself, things that He had formed in me that He loved. My belief that He had formed a “blank slate” in me was wrong – believing that everything within me was of my own doing – the result of my poor choices in a fallen world – was also wrong. The seed of what He has formed is still in me and like everything God made, it is good. In time, He showed me that much of what I loathed and wanted to change, was of Him in the first place.

    It says in Psalm 139 “you formed my reigns” … what do reigns do? The rider / husbandman uses them to control / guide an animal. Those reigns, that seed of God – His life-giving breath – is there, to guide and influence us even before we acknowledge the source of it is Him and respond to Him in repentance and rebirth.

    I think one of the most freeing things the Lord has done for me, is to show me what He loves about me – what He has formed in me – which has freed me to love myself, too – and to tell the enemy who would rather I continue in self-loathing, to kiss off. Not to discourage you, but it’s something He’s been working on in me for over 60 years now. Hoping you learn to love yourself like He does, before your a grizzled old saint, too. 😉


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    • “What the Savior tells me about me, is altogether different and more affirming, than what men tell me about me.”

      This is really good, and very true. I would say the enemy works both to sow self-dislike and then to reassure us through the empty words of men. One-two punch. Thank God he gives us a way out in Scripture.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. God does know those who have ears for Him. He won’t discuss anything with whoever won’t listen to Him -I guess Cain ‘taught’ Him a lesson. But for someone like Brandon or Jonah, the Old Testament prophet, when we don’t take Him seriously, at first, He allows Himself a mild chuckle, knowing fully well that His son will come to terms with Him, with whom we all have to do. Yes, He smiles at our (His adopted children) frivolities. Does His protocol not say (concerning unbelievers) in Psalm 59:8, “But thou, O LORD, shalt laugh at them; thou shalt have all the heathen in derision.” Thanks Brandon for stopping by my post and for following me (I guess that’s a double-barrelled thanks from me). God is happy with you, dear Brandon.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I struggled with self hatred for years. I am coming to see that Daddy was in control and watching over me even when I was is sin.
    I used to call Him the divine manipulator but that seemed to put people off. I guess the idea that He is in total control and even coordinates everything bothers some.
    I now say He is the divine initiator.
    Saw you over at my friend larrywho’s blog.
    Be blessed my brother.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: A Rebuke Worse than God’s? | Brandon J. Adams

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