When I was eight years old, I lost my first wallet. Aside from being a proud status of my pending membership in the “grown-up club,” it also had $10 inside of it. That represented nearly a month of allowance for me at that time, and to say I was prudent would be putting it lightly. I was a saver. I loved having that money in my back pocket and knowing that, when I saw something I liked, I could buy it, even if I didn’t. There was something in the assurance that knowing I could that actually was better in some ways than actually owning the thing itself. It was power!
So when I lost my wallet, I lost that sense of identity and power at the same time. I panicked. After looking everywhere I could think, I did what every good, young Baptist boy would do; I prayed for Jesus to help me find my wallet. A few minutes later, I came across it, tucked underneath some dirty clothes near the head of my bed. I was elated. I ran to show my mom, beaming.
“Look, I said, “Jesus found my wallet for me!” Looking back on this today I encounter a chilling but all too familiar God. One who helps me find my Naugahyde wallet, but who neglects the empty bellies of millions in sub-Saharan Africa. A God affords me the comfort carrying money I don’t actually need in my back pocket, while turning a blind eye two young girls who sell their bodies for a meal and a place to sleep.
This is not my God. God had no more to do with me finding my wallet that God had to do me losing it in the first place. God created humanity, and in doing so, affording us the latitude to live by our own will, the seeds of brokenness were planted. I believe in a God of love and of infinite grace. I also believe in reality beset with consequences. But the two don’t have to coexist in some seemingly contradictory Godhead in order for me to feel loved.
I found my own wallet that day, and rather than waiting for God to fix the ills of the world, perhaps it’s better that we reflect on the abundance of resources and gifts already before us and get to work on making it right with what we’ve got.