Who would have thought … ?


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“How much can we afford … ?” is the preface to many a conversation.

Good financial management is drummed into most children at an early age: don’t spend more than you can afford, put something aside each month for a rainy day, don’t get caught up in all these easy credit card offers, save for it before rather than pay it back afterwards, don’t think credit is always the answer …

Which always seemed odd to me as every home I ever lived in has been paid-for with extended credit and a massive loan with interest, secured on the very bricks of our home … or does calling it a “mortgage” make it ethically and morally “ok”?

“How much can I afford … ?”  was something I was taught to apply to relationships as well.  What is the return on my investment … is this a good investment of my time and money and love … could I be investing in someone else who will provide a better return … ? 

Which made relationships disposable.  Like any possession or investment prefaced with the “learning” …  ”I can easily afford to speculate a few pounds on this …. “

Jesus looked up and saw rich people putting their gifts into the treasury; he also saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. He said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them; for all of them have contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in all she had to live on.” Luke 21:1-4

Mr Mounce and the Greek uses “for they, out of their excess … but she, out of her need … “

Excess is a sound financial management term. Need is a far more direct emotional description.  For me it places the context much better.  Excess makes it a “How much can I afford … ?” gift that is easy, that is an obligation managed like other financial obligations (but always leaves enough for my lifestyle and a rainy day).

I don’t think Jesus is talking about “money management”.  Not tithing.  Not “mammon”.  Not the easy stuff.  Not the stuff of church committees and legally binding charitable-status terms and conditions. Not “the stuff” we prefer to focus so much time and energy controlling and worrying over.

Today Mrs Paul and I celebrate 35 years of marriage and the phrase we both have in our heads this morning is not “How much can we afford”. It is this …

“Who would have thought … ?”

I have no idea how much it has cost being married and raising a family and now part of a growing grandchildren family.  No idea how much our two families cost as our joint-extended family.  No idea whether it would have been financially (and emotionally) better to have invested in someone else (we have both wondered at times).

But I know with complete certainty that the “grass is greener” refers always to “grass”.  And just like love is love … so too “grass is grass”.

It matters not where I find either love or grass – it matters not whether I can afford love or grass.  Love, like grass just “is”.   And I can turn the grass brown here AND over there – just like I can with love – if I try hard enough.

I committed to a biblical God years ago just as I committed to a young lady 35 years ago.  Neither one I knew anything much about at the time other than this …

Someone told me that whales mate for life as a pairing.  And the way they choose a watery soul-mate is by gliding past each other.  In a world alien to me, in a place I cannot breathe or live, they glide past each other and know they are as one – or they know to keep gliding.

Thirty-five years ago in a small rented flat whilst working for McDonalds in the east of England – and against all logic and “the odds” of all relationship advice … we glided without knowing we were gliding … and I knew.

And coming back from a late shift one night, I slid into a warm bed – chilled from the cold night and still perfumed with the stale smell of grease and cleaning chemicals – and woke this warm nubile sexy vivacious life-force next to me and said nervously but with complete assurance –

“I think we should get married.”

(and then had to repeat it because pre-Mrs Paul was still three-parts asleep and hadn’t heard what I said)

Who would have thought … ?

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7 thoughts on “Who would have thought … ?

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