Batten Down the Hatches
By Jane Thornton
"The British are coming! The British are coming!""Batten down the hatches!""All hands, man your battle stations!"Warnings which echo through the ages. A similar cry rings throughout my household once a month.
"Mommy's paying bills!"
My children have learned the hard way to avoid making any requests during these tense hours. My oh-so-wise husband makes himself scarce, finding some chore that needs to be done outside–but not too distant. He must be available to answer queries about credit card charges, lest he enrage the beast.
I am continuing a long-standing family tradition. About thirty-five years ago, I remember barreling into my parents' room only to screech to a halt. Daddy sat in a pool of light at his hard-knocked, oak desk, two furrows between his brows. The checkbook was open, and neat columns of figures lined his paper. My interruption earned a snarl. I tiptoed back out of the lion's den.
Each month, I try to gird myself up for this dreaded chore. I seem to have forgotten my knowledge of Matthew 6:28-30. "…See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?" (NIV)
And every month God does take care of us. In twenty-three years of marriage, we have not bounced a check, we have not missed a mortgage payment, and I probably haven't skipped a movie I really wanted to see, either.
We have tried to take God at His word in Malachi 3:10. "…'Test me in this,' says the Lord Almighty, 'and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (NIV) Even when times grew unstable and our salary seemed puny, we gave to God first. And his promise stood firm. We are incredibly blessed. When the kids were younger, someone gave us some great advice. Don't tell them we "can't afford" some treat or luxury; point out that we "are choosing" to spend our money on higher priorities.
My children are almost grown now (they'd take out the almost). Perhaps I still have time to be a better example. Next month, I will change my phrasing and say, "Oh goodie! It's time to pay bills. Let's see how abundantly God has provided for us." I will smile benevolently and sing "Count Your Blessings" through the entire task.