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God's Envelope
Photo: Ann- Kathrin Rehse
Someone gave me an envelope and said, “Use this to cover tuition, or any other costs your students cannot pay themselves.”

I was a boarding academy principal, painfully aware of the financial needs many parents and students were facing. Jim, our business manager, regularly brought me accounts showing families who could not pay, but who were trying hard to keep their kids in school.

One single mother worked three jobs to pay tuition, room, and board for her sophomore son. Another family sold their van and bought a used bicycle and an ancient VW. “We can walk or ride bikes to most of our appointments,” they said, “and when we have to we’ll use the VW on short trips.”

Not all the parents were that sacrificial, but many demonstrated that the widow’s oil was still flowing.

Widow's Oil

That story, “The Widow’s Oil,” from 2 Kings 4:1-7, still makes me smile. It sounds so much like the tales many parents told in the principal’s office. When they sat on the other side of the low coffee table, and nervously twirled their hats and found eye contact difficult, I immediately thought of the widow showing up under Elisha’s tree to ask for financial help, so she could keep her kids out of slavery.

“But now the creditors are coming to take my two boys as slaves!”

The embarrassment and panic we saw often mirrored the mother’s words.

“We’re about to be evicted unless we pay three months’ rent. I can’t do that and tuition too!”

“Can you give us a little time? It ought to be better when our little girl gets out of the cancer unit.”

That’s when I would look at Jim and ask, “What is the balance due?” His answer was always right to the penny, as a good business manager’s answers must be. Then he would wink and ask, “Do you have anything in your drawer?”

Ah, yes. God’s envelope!

I have no idea how much money has gone through that envelope through the years, but the first $5,000 was like seed money for a money tree. When we cared for needs till there were only a couple bills left, God had someone send a check, drop off ten $100 bills, give us a $500 credit at Safeway, or provide whatever else someone needed. The most we ever had was $157,000. The least? A $2 bill.

Whatever the need, “The Envelope” always has just a little more than necessary.

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By Dick Duerksen. Reprinted with permission from the Lake Union Herald, June 2007. Copyright © 2007 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scipture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982.

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