The Mysterious Appearance of Big Bills in the Pews

Hey, look at this! I just found a $50 dollar bill,” Ted yelled, waving it overhead.

We’re all dumbfounded.

From the giddy third graders to the sensible adult leaders, no one can make heads or tails of it.

Big bucks- $5’s and $10’s and $20’s and, last night a $50- have been mysteriously tucked in church Bibles. They’ve been showing up Wednesday nights at AWANA. No notes, not envelopes, no rhyme or reason- just fresh, dreamy cash.

The first $5 was laid bare a couple months ago during the group devotion. Lucky little Dominick got that one. It happens like this: kids crack the Bible to lookup a verse and, lo and behold, there appears cash. Every Wednesday, a $5 or $10 or $20 shows up.

Last night, it was a $50 bill.

Expectation, Hope and a Sense of Urgency

Part of me wishes I was the Mystery Bill Filler who tucks big bucks into pew Bibles.

Because those hidden bills are making kids open the God’s Word with glee. With expectation and hope and a sense of urgency.

I know, I know. The third grade treasure hunters scrambling over, under, around and through the pews last night were not desiring the pure milk of the Word. They just wanted the cash.

But the sight of those kids practically somersaulting over pews to open the Word show us how all God’s children should go after the Bible.

“The Bible,” Patrick Henry said, “is worth all other books which have ever been printed.” That’s because in it, God reveals God. The Creator shows himself to the creation for what he is a glorious, good God.

And calls us to seek Him- for forgiveness and life and fullness of joy- just to name a few (Isaiah 55:6-7, Psalm 17:3, Psalm 16:11). And we find Him by seeking him in his Word.

It’s one thing I resolve to do till the day I die.

More to be Desired than Gold

I haven’t a clue who’s been tucking the big bucks in the pew Bibles or why.

But I can’t miss the metaphor. With just a little imagination, there’s a beautiful truth here to behold.

The bills in the Bibles – and the way the kids raced to get to a Bible and open it up to find the bills- make a spiritual truth plain: God’s word is “more to be desired than gold, even much fine gold,” (Psalm 19:10).

Last night, the leaders made Ted put the $50 bill in the offering box. But I pray that one day Teddy and the others will remember back. Back to third grade when all those big bills mysteriously appeared and that when they do, they’ll rejoice.

Because in that day, they’ll realize that the Word of God is all that.

And so much more.

….My heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your Word like one who finds a great spoil.”

Psalm 119: 161-162

“I want to know one thing, the way to heaven: how to land safe on that happy shore. God himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end he came from heaven. He has written it down in a book! Oh, give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be: “A man of one book.”

John Wesley


Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!

Look to the LORD and his strength and seek his face always.

Psalm 105:3b-4

I get why ancients worshiped the sun. I understand why snowbirds fly south, and sleep is denied to watch the sun rise. I see why.

Because I stalk the sun.

It’s deep in me, this light-seeking behavior, the insatiable draw to the sun. It was in me before, aglow on a south-facing sofa and swooning at sunsets as I scrubbed pots. But moving into our two-year-new dwelling place made it clear, overt, pronounced. 

Your see, our brown ranch is enveloped in a hickory forest. Not a grove-a forest. Stray rays sneak in between leaves, though. And I stalk those rays. I stalk the sun.

In summer I pursue these precious streams outside. Stalking sun means I rise, take up my chair and shift with the light. I move often, maybe four times each hour. Each day we spin away and the leaves soak her light and I strive to catch every bright bit of her I can. 

Come winter the rocker migrates to the brightest spot in a dim house. I stalk until I find bright light. Once found, I drag the rocker from living to laundry room where she beams. Then, in her glow I read or fold. Catlike, ensconced-I bask in the warm golden rays. 

I seek and find. Then I realign to catch the sloping rays. It is always worth the effort, the stalking of light. For you see, stalking true light is at once a quest for joy. 

Learning to Seek in the Shade 

Living in the shade teaches me what ceaseless, unrelenting desire to seek looks like. I must seek the light of God’s face with as much-with more- purpose and dogged determination than I exert to get around the limbs and leaves and align my chair with to the sun’s ever-shifting rays. 

I must get around those blocks and go where light can be found. Behind our house is a meadow. I go there and walk on its sunlit paths. I seek sun in back when it’s blocked in front.

I stalk sun and my husband stalks it with me. Like the lame man’s friends, he cut through a ceiling. They cut to get to the Son; he to get to the sun. 

Dogged determination brought a lame man to the Light of the World (Mark 2:6). Dogged determination brought the sun light in. First, a chandelier wired through. Bright eyes followed. Light floods a once dim dining room. 

Seeking One Shining Face

This is the job description for a Christian: seeking Him, stalking the joy found only in Him. In his presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11). This is the life of a Christian. 

We’re like the prophet Elisha who fixed his gaze and stared intently at him, so that Hazael was embarrassed (2 Kings 8:11)Like, but unlike, because God invites- he commands-our gaze. And unlike sinful man he is not ashamed but glorified by an unflinching gaze.  

God blesses our dogged determination to seek his face. Those who look to the LORD are radiant, their faces are never covered in shame (Psalm 34:5)Persistent pursuit of His presence is rewarded. Blessed are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O LORD, in the light of your face, who exult in your name all the day and in your righteousness are exalted (Psalm 89:15-16).

Keith Green was all over this, this one-track-minded seeking. O Lord, you’re beautiful, your face is all I seek, and when your eyes are on this child, your grace abounds to me. The Psalmists were too. They knew gazing on one shining face meant blessing and love and grace.

  • Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love. Psalm 31:16
  • May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. 67:1
  • Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your statutes. 119:135
They all were just echoing God’s own words. Thus you shall bless the people of Israel, God instructed Moses. And so those words my dad prayed each night over me and I pray most nights over my boys are words of shining-faced blessing (Numbers 6:24-26). 

The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace

Set, Seek, Stalk

I have set the Lord always before me. Psalm 16:8 

Seeking Christ doesn’t stop at conversion. The stalk has only just begun. Seeking him is the Christian’s life calling. Resisting drift is our work. To believe on Jesus, to fix our gaze on the Lord and seek his face always, that is the work of faith. 

We must believe that fullness of joy is found in His presence. If we do, we seek. We stalk joy. And so the image of Flannery O’Connor becomes the image of Abigail and Jim and Jonathan and Julia: 

Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy-fully armed, too, as it’s a highly dangerous quest (The Habit of Being).

King Jehoshaphat set his face to seek the LORD (2 Chron. 20:3). I don’t know if his teeth were clenched. David cried out, Let the light of your face shine upon us, O LORD! (Psalm 4:6). Stalking is the natural next thing. 

It’s what David did. It is, I think, what all saints do. Maybe, it’s what make them saints. What makes us saints. I have set the LORD always before me, he wrote in Psalm 16:8. And when we are set to seek his face, we come into his presence. And, in your presence is fullness of joy. 

Drastic Means

Jim trimmed another window. It’s a testimony to his love for me and to my love for light. Last week no sunlight brightened our bathroom. Now it’s aglow with natural light. But access to light meant drastic means; it meant cutting through a wall. 

Endless obstacles block His light. Sin is our biggest Son block. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil (Psalm 34:16).  We’ve got to confess and turn; we must move our chairs and realign. 

Coast through life and you’ll lose sight, too. The dull lull of spiritual drift dims the Son’s light. We must be diligent to set our mind and heart to seek the LORD (1 Chronicles 22:19). 

But God’s grace abounds and bids me come. Come, listen to my Word on your iPhone app while you jog. Come. Come, in the mini-van and hear my Word in a sermon, on a CD. Come. Come, away from Facebook and catalogs and talk to me. Come.

And grace tells me go. Go worship for He inhabits the praise of His people. Go fellowship with one another in my light. Go. Go to life group when the game’s still on and the laundry’s undone. Go. Go walk through autumn leaves and wonder at my world. Go

Come and go. Come away from what blocks the light of God’s shining face, the sin and neglect that stand in the way of joy. Go where His face shines. Go to his Word, to his Church, to Him. Get into his presence where joy is full.

Teeth ground, go.

Stalk joy.

You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you, 
  “Your face, LORD, do I seek.”
       Psalm 27:8