My dad was always the sort of person I could count on for, well, everything, whether it was picking me up from rehearsal or affirming my call to ministry or helping me buy a used car.
Yesterday I received something that let me know that even after his death I could count on him, and I received it because before he died he had, as they say, put his affairs in order. He had carefully thought through what he had, where it was going to go, and what good it might do – and he had done all the paperwork to make that possible.
Sometimes Christians have trouble talking about money and love in the same sentence. Money is not love, and love is not money, and it is possible to have either of them without the other. But maintaining that the two are distinct – which I believe strongly – can also keep us from talking about the ways they relate. “Don’t just write a check,” we say. OR “This is spiritual – it isn’t about dollars and cents.” Or that old standby “We don’t need to pay you – you’re doing it for the Lord.”You can, as a matter of fact, show love for someone by giving them money, especially when money (rather than, say, “thoughts and prayers”) is what they most need. And you can do things for the Lord and also get paid for them. You can even show love for people by doing paperwork. And you can show love through ordering your life around principles of good stewardship and preparation for the inevitable, no matter how much or how little money you have. My dad lived a life of integrity, and as a result – no matter how much grief I have to wade through – I don’t also have to wade through estrangements and missing pieces and unresolved questions.
This sounds terribly like a come-to-Jesus speech, I know. Even card-carrying mainliners can make such speeches at times. But I feel pretty strongly that if Jesus can’t touch the parts of our life where we least want him to go, what’s the point? Perhaps in the New Jerusalem there will be no paperwork. But as long as the paperwork is with us, I want to know he’s walking through it with me, guiding me as I think about how best to steward whatever I’ve got for the kingdom.