Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Faith and the Thermometer

More from the wild ride that is our life. Today I’ll share another high—a time when our needs were met in unexpected ways.

It was around 1998. A little more than a year earlier Tom had been laid off from the well-loved job he’d had for nearly a decade. He’d dreamed of being an independent software developer and the unexpected and abrupt loss of employment put us on the fast track to self-employment.

It was a scary and exciting time.

An independent software developer doesn’t have a lot of over-head costs. We needed a computer. Check. A phone. Check. Talented software developer. Check. The most expensive part of the operation was the printing costs for the installation disks and product manual. We took a leap of faith and hired a local printer to do the job.

Now we owed $1,500 and the money was due in full in 30 days. I’m not gonna lie…I was worried. That was a huge amount of money and we had absolutely no idea where the funds for groceries were coming from, let alone the monies needed to fund a business.

I decided this would be a great opportunity to teach my kids something about prayer and God’s faithfulness. So, I drew a five-foot tall thermometer on a six-foot banner and hung it on our kitchen wall. We were going to pray, wait for the money to come in, and keep track of it with my elementary-school-inspired artwork.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret—this was a gigantic risk for me. I was not sure God could do this thing. We had gotten used to living on very little money. We needed every single penny for gas, food, rent, and utilities. I couldn’t imagine where an “extra” $1,500 would come from.

We prayed. We prayed some more.

We decided that any unexpected money would go towards moving the mercury up the thermometer. One day a card came in the mail and inside was a check for $25. The enclosed note said, “Hi Tom and Liz. Thought you might be able to use this. Have a great day.”

Wow! I used a fat red marker and filled in the rounded bottom of the gauge on the wall. The money started coming in. I had a birthday—money. Tom’s mom had a bit of a windfall and she shared it with us—money. We sold a record number of software packages that month—more money. Amazing.

I can’t recall here and now just exactly where every penny came from, but I can tell you that on the 30th day, the last few pennies trickled in and the entire thermometer was completely bright red!

I’d put the crude drawing on the kitchen wall to teach my kids about God’s faithfulness in times of need, but it was I who needed to learn that lesson!

As our life got harder and harder and spun farther out of control, God’s faithfulness wasn’t always easy to see. But then I’d remember the thermometer and I knew that even when my faith was small, His faithfulness was never failing.

He always shows up in the nick of time. He still does.


  1. Mark from the UKMay 15, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    This is a lovely story, but why does God get the credit for the love and generosity of your friends, family and your own determination to meet your goal by being careful with any money you receive rather than squandering it? If there is a God, I believe he would want you to do as you and your friends did, but even he would acknowledge that it was YOU that solved the problem, not an invisible guy upstairs.

  2. Believe me when I say, I understand EXACTLY why you feel as you do. I suppose that's why it's called, "faith". The money came from completely unexpected sources - people who didn't even know there was a need. Our regular resources came in to pay our normal monthly bills, and the amount of extra and unexpected money that came in was exactly what we needed to pay the unexpected bill.