I never had pennies in my penny loafers. My mother insisted that my sisters and I used dimes or quarters instead of pennies, that way we always would have change to call her from a pay phone in case of an emergency.
That worked in theory, but practice was another thing. Was it our fault that the bus stop home from school was right across the street from the bakery? Were we to blame that our after school club ran late that wintry afternoon, and we were hungry? Was it our fault that the bus rumbled by as we spent both bus fare and emergency money on warm cookies, and then ended up walking home in a snow storm. Apparently it was our fault, as we found out when we arrived home an hour or so later than expected.
My fast and free spending of emergency money caught up with me on my first short-term missions trip. It was with Operation Mobilization (OM). During the pre-trip conference in Belgium, OM staff emphasized the need to always have emergency money on our persons. Oh-oh, emergency money? How did the venerable George Verwer discover my checkered past with emergency money and cookies? I was doomed even before my summer service in Italy began.
Providentially, my teammates shared similar spending habits, and as the summer progressed, our emergency money became gelato money. It was good to have such team unity.
The truth about emergency money—whether you use it responsibly for emergencies only or for cookies and gelatos—it is a finite resource.
I remember clutching coins in my hands as a child, and once that meager finite resource was gone, I thought my hands smelled like money. This makes me wonder about other finite resources I latch on to, relying on them as if my life is dependent on them—totally unaware of any residue they might leave behind on the fingers my soul.
From what I can tell, the best way to remove any sticky, unwanted residue from my soul is a good soaking in humble dependence on God, who has met my greatest need for salvation, and who is prone to using words such as lavish, immeasurable, far more abundantly, unsearchable riches and filled with all the fullness.
He is more than enough for every emergency I encounter and every gelato I enjoy.