Thursday, June 22, 2006


You want to know what happened subsequent to the Gold in the Cave Wall entry, and of course I’m going to tell you. Obviously, I am still alive. But am I solvent? Is my family once again consuming generic pancake batter?

Things got worse before they got better—I made certain of it. Whenever things head south financially, I always do the irrational thing: I give money away. I think I probably do it to give God sport. God loves the impossible, well do I know. It’s only fun for Him if He can make a feast appear from a kid’s two-bit lunch, or make lame people walk, or make blind people see. David conquering Goliath is only fun for God if David is a seventh-grader and Goliath shaves with the blunt edge of a sword (or, better yet, not at all). As long as Goliath has every conceivable physical advantage—size, sword, helmet, shield, and full medical coverage—then God is ready to go with the uninsured shepherd boy. Same with His Son. As long as Christ is pinned helplessly upon a cross with not one thing left to His name but faith, then God is ready to unleash Satan and conciliate the world to Himself.

“Become, then, imitators of God.” Galatians 5:1. Okay, God. You asked for it.

I went to a Bible study the weekend following Gold in the Cave Wall. My new paperback, The Really Bad Thing About Free Will had just returned from the printers, so I took a handful of copies of that, along with my other paperbacks, along with How to Quit Church Without Quitting God, along with my CD, Part-Time Sinner.

The hostess had not so much designed this gathering as a Bible study, but as a time when I would talk and other people would listen. I always pray before these things, acutely aware of my weakness. I know it is my weakness that God uses, not my strength. My prayer, then, is that I would always remember that.

The first time I ever addressed a public gathering, I was so scared that I knelt at the sink in the bathroom of the hall and prayed for a miracle, which ensued. Ever since then, the continuous miracle is that, when God prods me to open my mouth publicly, He grants people knowledge and understanding. I’m no longer scared because I know from experience that God speaks in spite of me not because of me, but I still put myself, mentally, at the foot of the sink.

The same thing went on at this “Bible study.”

I talked, answered questions, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. The hostess served pizza, the miracles occurred in the typical nonobservable fashion (I would hear the details later), and Melody and I prepared to leave—but not before I metamorphosed into a sort of celestial Santa Claus.

I felt the urge to give away as many books as possible. So before I left, I reached into my “Santa’s bag” and pulled out copies of The Really Bad Thing About Free Will. I talked a little bit about the book, and then handed out copies. Then I did the same thing with all my other books. Everyone was laughing, because all these books kept coming out of my bag like the loaves and the fishes. As the books flew out of the bag, I said crazy things like, “Bless you, my child,” and “Your troubles are over,” and “I hope you want these, because here. Here. Here. And here.” I worked so hard I could have used a couple elves.

The hostess walked Melody and me to our sleigh and eyed me with genuine concern. “Good God, Santa,” she whispered. “You gave away a couple hundred dollars worth of books there, at least.” She knew about my situation and slipped me a twenty for the reindeer. I gratefully pocketed the bill and said, “I know. But I loved it. It was fun. It felt crazy. Ho, ho. Need a book?

The next day, I received a check in the mail from a supporter that made me whoop right there in the kitchen. Later that afternoon, a friend I had not heard from for 4 ½ years called out of the blue to tell me that he was “back on board” and ready to assist the ministry again. The evidence of this arrived six days later, satisfying the people at the phone company, the electric company, and half the people at the mortgage joint.

God rescued me, once again, via the Body of Christ.

This cycle will repeat itself for the eon, I suppose. I would like to foresee a time when I’m comfortable, when I’m “rolling in it,” delivered from the stresses of financial free-fall and recovery. But somehow I think that God will continue to stun me with timely miracles, and provide givers—givers including myself—with even more opportunities for greater blessing. Perhaps; perhaps not. In any case, I’m still on my knees at the altar of the sink, praying for miracles. God? He’s rubbing His hands together and smiling, scanning Earth for the helpless among humanity.

© 2006 by Martin Zender