April 26, 2006

The Overdraft

1512 page22 capnce upon a time a certain girl went to kindergarten, and elementary school, and secondary school, and then college. What a smart girl!
When she has finished school, the girl gets her own apartment. She says, “It is tiny, but I can make it very cute.” She is excited! She is living like a grown-up! To make the tiny apartment very, very cute, the girl goes to the bank and gets a checking account. She writes her first check. It is very easy. So she writes another one. She writes and writes and writes. I must still have money, she thinks, because I have many, many checks left. The girl is happy. She likes writing the checks, and she likes making the tiny apartment very, very cute.
Soon, the bank writes to the girl. Do you think the bank wants to thank the girl for writing all those checks? No, they do not. They tell her that she has written more checks than she has money in the bank. They call this “being in the red,” but red is a very nice color, and the girl does not understand.
The nice people at the bank explain that a funny thing has happened to the many checks the girl wrote. They have bounced. Look! Look! See the funny bouncing papers! But the bank does not think this is funny. And when the girl sees the numbers the bank charges for each bounce, she does not think it is funny either. Not at all.
The girl does not know what to do. She thought she was all grown up. But she has many things to learn. She hates to tell anyone that she has done this bad thing. But she must do something, because the little pieces of paper are bouncing very, very high. So she decides to tell her special Friend.
1512 page22Now, the girl’s special Friend loves her very much. He understands how this can happen, how sometimes, when we are partway through growing up, we can confuse freedom with irresponsibility. (Look the big word up in a dictionary. It is a very important word.)
The girl’s Friend gives her money. Not just to cover the numbers she wrote on all the bouncing papers, but enough for the extra numbers the bank added for each bounce. It is a fresh start! The girl used to think red was a pretty color, but she is happy when they say her account is no longer “in the red.”
The next month stores send bills to the girl. And many new stores send sales flyers to the girl, too. So many nice things she can buy for the tiny, cute apartment. “What shall I do?” she wonders. “If I write too many checks, and they bounce and bounce, I know that my Friend will help again, because He loves me, and He has enough money to cover all the red. I can write more checks!”
But the girl thinks some more. She says, “My Friend loves me so much that I know He would help me again. But I also know that my Friend can teach me how to write good checks, and then we will have one more thing in common. It would be nice if all our time together weren’t spent changing all the red marks. I will ask Him for help before I write the checks!”
Do you think this was a good idea?
Then the girl has another idea that makes her very, very happy. Maybe, she thinks, I have more growing up to do. Maybe the very best thing to have in my apartment is not more stuff, but my Friend Himself! I will invite Him to come and stay!
The end. 
Or, the very beginning.
Valerie Phillips is an associate director of the women’s residence hall at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, where she has ministered to collegiate women for 25 years.