Life is full of experiences and mishaps. Events, which at the time, can seem pretty insignificant and no more then a frivolous waste of time. Some dealings you may desire to just forget altogether! But then again, maybe not! These misadventures can in fact prove to be a divine appointment- big or small God can use it all! This morning in our men’s devotion, I had such a realization. A prior mishap made for a great life lesson. We have reached the book of James, and are looking closely at chapter five. Here James is giving a warning to the rich, “Your wealth is rotting away.” Instantly a prior misadventure surfaced.
Katie and I visited London, England last month for a short time of rest. On our last day in London, we decided to go and get some lunch down by the London Bridge. Being our last day I didn’t want to hassle with exchanging any more currency figuring our visa card should allow us to ride the trip out. We found a place and had a nice lunch. We laughed, we joked, enjoying the time together. At least until the waitress came out with the bill! I reach for my card to pay and she declares, almost in slow motion, “WE ONLY EXCEPT CASH!” First idea in my head was to scoop Katie up and take off! However, coming to grips with our situation I said, ” Well, I don’t have any cash and will have to go get some.”
Walking away from the restaurant, leaving Katie as evidence that I will come back. I know that my credit card restricts withdraw from an ATM, so the wheels start churning in my head. I go to the closest grocery store to get “cash back” but the clerk replies, “Sorry sir, we don’t do that!” Immediately I turn back and offer to pay for the a mans groceries behind me in exchange for his cash, “No, thank you sir he says!” Walk outside; start sizing people up. Go to a man in line for boat rides on the Thames, try to explain my situation and he says, “Get away, are you trying to rob me?” I was feeling pretty desperate at this point, as an hour had already passed and I thought of Katie still sitting at the restaurant- with no phone service mind you.
Meandering around trying to scheme up a plan I saw a sign in bright, blue letters INTERNATIONAL EXCHANGE! I remembered the Nigerian Naira I had in my bag in the room. I went to the front desk and asked the man “Do you exchange Naira here?” He smiled and said, “Yes, we do!” Finally, I thought and told him I would be right back! Jogging back to the room about a mile and a half away at this point having been gone for an hour and a half. Katie is still alone at this restaurant.
(I later found out they would not even let her go to the restroom in fear she would run. Can you picture Katie sprinting down the River Thames with waitress’ and Bobbies chasing her and the Tower of London in the background?)
Anyway I got back to the room grabbed all the Naira and back to the exchange. I come up to the window smiling and handed him my stack of Naira saying, “Exchange it all!” He grabs it with a smile and then stops smiling, looks up at me and says, “Oh we only exchange Turkish Naira.” TURKISH NAIRA! (I now know it is Turkish Lira not Naira- but all sounds the same!) Never have I ever been so close as to turning into the Hulk. I could feel my clothes getting tighter. I took my stack of no good, Nigerian Naira and walked defeated back to the restaurant. Not knowing what we were going to do, and thinking Katie is going to kill me. After digging through the crowds I come around the corner to see Katie, still sitting at the table, smiling and she says, “The waitress came by an hour and half ago, said the card machine works now!” Needless to say I didn’t leave a tip!!
Hearing James 5:3 “ your gold and silver have become worthless” made me stop and realize that running up and down the streets of London was in fact something God glorified. A perfect parallel, the money we have in one place is worth nothing in a foreign land. The money, possessions, and materials we have here in this world, the ones we cling so tightly to, will be worthless once reaching heaven. I can picture myself and others reaching the “pearly gates” running franticly from here to there trying to exchange everything we have. Desperately trying to pay the bill! When all we have in our pockets is useless, no good, dingy, “Turkish Naira!”
“ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that now one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9