Anyway, this whole incident reminded me of my own little million dollar debacle.
I was eight years old. My best friend, Melissa, spent the night, and we were headed to church together the next morning. We thought that it would be cool to sit away from the grown-ups, so we
We were young and dumb and didn't know that we were going against the grain by sitting in the front. The phrase "Back Seat Baptists" was still a foreign concept to us. We just thought it would be fun to goof off.
Twenty minutes later we had drawn on every tithing envelope in our pew, and I decided to fill out a "Faith Promise" card. For those of you who aren't familiar with a faith promise card...let me enlighten you. A Faith Promise Missions Giving" card is a form you fill out promising to give a sum of money over the course of the next year to support the missionaries of the church. You are supposed to pray for direction from the Lord, and then fill out the card for the amount that you feel led to give. Being the cool eight year old that I was, I thought it would be funny to fill out the entire card....just like a grown up....and I filled in the dollar amount with a one followed by as many zeros as would fit in the box. Melissa and I had a good chuckle over it, and when the offering plate passed by, I made an impulsive, last minute decision to put the card in the offering plate. We could hardly contain our giggles. I had just upped my cool factor exponentially! We then decided to settle down and try to fill in the sermon notes....no more funny business. The rest of the day passed without any incident.
Now, fast-forward to Monday evening. It felt like an eternity had passed from the events of the previous morning so I had completely forgotten about my generous giving commitment. My parents called me in the room and told me to sit down on the couch. "Yikes...this can't be good" I thought. Having a "talk" with the parents could only mean one thing...I was in trouble. But for what? I couldn't think of a single thing I had done.
(Side note: There is one detail that is critical to this story, that I must share with you, the reader. It's a bit of a smoking gun, if you will. My Mom just so happened to be the church secretary during the time of my....um... impulsive decision to drop the fake card into the offering. Imagine her surprise on Monday morning when she was going through the cards from the offering plate and happened to find out that her daughter promised to pay a whopping ten million dollars to the church.)
My parents asked me if there was anything I wanted to confess. I thought hard and couldn't think of a single thing. Then my mother informed me that she was "made aware" of my generous giving commitment. The sirens started going off in my head. It was all flooding back to my memory now. At that instant I was kicking myself for not thinking about the fact that my mother was going to find out about my little stunt.
I admitted my guilt immediately. Then my parents proceeded to scare the guts out of me when they told me that when you fill out one of those cards the church is depending on you for that money. Then they looked me straight in the eye and said, "How are you going to come up with $10,000,000 in the next year?" WHAT???? Were they out of their minds? I was just a kid. I never had more than $1.37 at any given moment of my young life. I needed a loan from the folks. Money this huge was out of my realm of understanding. I couldn't pull it off. I saw my whole life flash before my eyes. Then they dropped a bigger bomb. They said that if we were going to start paying it off then our family wouldn't be able to afford to go to Disneyland this year. I started to cry. My life was ruined, and I was only eight. The only thing I was thinking was "Why did I have to go and put that stupid card in the plate?" I was a real dummy.
Then, through the tears, I saw my mom pull something out of her pocket....it was the "Faith Promise" card. Relief flooded over me as I realized that there may be some hope after all. She asked me if I still wanted to give ten million dollars to missions, and I shook my head. The next hour was a blur of a lesson about the importance of taking my commitments to God very seriously.
I can assure you that I always pray fervently now before I make any type of financial commitments at church. I learned a valuable lesson that day about reverent behavior, lies, and the punishment for being silly. I also learned that if you goof off in church, and your mom is the secretary....your sins will be brought to light very soon. Church secretaries know EVERYTHING!
P.S.- The funniest part is that my mother has no recollection of this incident which tells me that I did a whole lot of worse things when I was a kid. ;)