Money Troubles

By Linda Porter Carlyle

MacKenzie Isabelle Evans squirmed on the back seat of the car. She stared out the window at the passing scenery, but she couldn’t get rid of the uncomfortable thought in her head. She looked at the gray clouds that filled the sky and tried to think about the weather. Would it rain this afternoon? Or would the wind come up and blow the clouds away?

The uncomfortable thought crowded out the answers.

Mac looked at the cars on the road. She tried to distract herself by wondering what kind of car she would buy when she was grown up. Certainly a shiny red one! A cute little Volkswagen maybe. Or maybe one of those big, powerful-looking Dodge Ram pickups with a camper so she could drive it to the beach and sleep overnight in it. But the uncomfortable thought pushed away the thoughts about cars and trucks too. It sat right in the middle of her head.

Mac squirmed some more.

Dad slowed the car and turned. The gravel of the driveway crunched under the tires.

Mac unbuckled her seat belt, grabbed her Bible, and pushed open the car door. “Can I unlock the house?” she asked.

Dad smiled and handed her his key ring.

Mac dashed up the back steps. She poked the house key into the lock. It was always tricky remembering which direction she needed to turn it. But this time the door opened on her first try. Mac gave Dad back his keys and ran through the kitchen down the hall.

“Come help me fix lunch as soon as you change your clothes,” Mom called after her.

“OK!” Mac answered as she clumped up the stairs to her room. She flopped down on her bed and gazed at the ceiling. She wished she had been sick this morning when Mom woke her up. It would be better to have a fever, and a headache, and be sick to her stomach than to have gone to church today! If she hadn’t gone to church, there would be no uncomfortable thought disturbing her.

Finally Mac stood up. She peeled off her dress and hurriedly reached for her sweats. It was cold upstairs! She pulled on thick white socks and sneakers and then sat down again on the bed. She stared across the room at the third drawer of her dresser. The money was in the third drawer. In a little square bank, fastened tightly shut with a tiny padlock. And that is exactly where Mac wanted it to stay! Until she had enough saved up to go to the store with Dad and buy a new bike. A bike with gears! All of her friends had bikes with gears and brakes on the handlebars. Not bikes like hers that she could just pedal forward and then had to push the pedals backward to stop.

Dad had said he would not buy her a new bike because her old bike still fit her, and it was a perfectly good bike even though it wasn’t new. But after listening to her arguments, Dad had agreed that if she wanted a bike badly enough to save $85, he would pay the rest toward a new one. And Mac had saved. She had saved birthday money and Christmas money and her allowance and special money she had earned by doing extra jobs. She had been saving forever! And she was so close to having all $85!

And then she went to church today. And Robbie, one of the big high school boys, had stood up and told the congregation that he hoped to go on a mission trip next summer. He would be helping build an orphanage in Honduras. He needed to raise one thousand dollars to pay for his travel and to help buy building materials.

Mac had not heard one word of the sermon that followed. She sat in the pew, thinking of orphans. Being an orphan must be a very sad thing! She could not imagine not having her parents to love her and take care of her. She remembered stories she had heard about orphans who had hardly any clothes to wear and no toys at all to play with. And no beds. And not very much to eat either.

And that was when Mac had remembered the money sitting in the bank in her third dresser drawer. And the uncomfortable thought had bounced into her mind. It was the thought that maybe it would be better to give her money to Robbie and help the orphans rather than to use it for herself for a new bike.

A tear slid out of the corner of Mac’s eye as she sat quietly on the bed. She hastily brushed it away on her sleeve. She really, really wanted a bike like all the other kids. But having a new bike truly wasn’t as important as helping orphans who were really needy. It was a very hard decision even though she knew which way she should decide.

It was just like what Pastor Chuck had said in Sabbath School. “Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest decisions,” he had said. “And Jesus made the very best and hardest decision of all when He decided to die to save us.”

Mac took a deep breath. She stood up. She crossed the room and pulled open the third dresser drawer. She dug out the bank that was hidden underneath her folded clothes. She would ask Dad to keep the money in his wallet until next Sabbath. But that was too long to wait! Maybe Dad could call Robbie’s house after lunch and tell him that he already had $79.75 toward his goal. That would make Robbie feel good to know he had raised some money already.

“Dad!” Mac shouted as she jumped down the stairs, two at a time.

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