By the Rev. Canon Mark A. Pearson
I’m sure you all know the phrase, “Money in the bank.” It doesn’t just mean you have some cash tucked away; it means you have cash tucked away “for a rainy day” — for a time when you really need something on which to draw. You’ve got some bills due and you don’t have money in your checkbook to pay them — but wait! —you’ve got reserve funds. You’ve got “money in the bank.”
There’s a spiritual equivalent of “money in the bank.” It is those experiences of God at work in and for you, the recollection of which can help you when you’re going through a tough time. You’re very sick, or out of work, or having family troubles. As a result, you’re not making a connection with God in your prayer time or Sunday worship. You’re either down on yourself, thinking you’re a third rate Christian, or else you lash out at others. Thank God you’ve got spiritual “money in the bank” on which to draw.
Two Personal Examples
You can’t make ends meet but you remember a time previously when a check showed up unexpectedly. In the early 1980s, when I.C.R. was just beginning, I had few speaking / ministry engagements and few donors supporting the work. I was literally down to one can of peas in the pantry and had no money at all. I knew the scriptural promises of God’s provision but I had no experience of Him providing at the last minute. “Out of the blue” a letter came with a large check accompanied by a note saying, “I believe in what you’re called to do with this Institute.” From that point on, in addition to the Scriptural promises, I had first hand experience of God’s provision to remember every time things are tight. That experience is like “money in the bank” to draw on whenever I need to.
A friend of mine was praying for his sister who had a life threatening illness. He was starting to doubt God’s willingness to heal today. As a result he was not praying with much faith. Then he recalled how he had witnessed two people healed at his church, both with major illnesses. His faith got strong and he prayed confidently. His sister was healed. His witnessing those healings was “money in the bank” to draw upon when his faith was weak.
Two Biblical Examples
I believe that many of the things Jesus did and said served as “money in the bank” for His disciples both during the events of Good Friday and in their later ministries. Let’s look at two examples.
Good Friday. When Jesus was arrested, bound, tried and condemned to death, it would have been reasonable for the disciples to lose their nerve and their faith. Everything they had believed in was suddenly dashed to pieces. The One they had trusted in was captured and about to be killed.
What would the logical move be? Run for your lives, as fast and as far as you could. But they didn’t. They stuck around. True, only John stood by the cross, but the others did not leave town. Nor did they need much persuasion to check out the empty tomb when they were told on Easter morning that Jesus had risen. I do not find it strange that they were not at the Cross. I find it incredible they stayed nearby. Why did they?
For one thing, I believe they remembered what happened to Lazarus. “Many” (says John 11:45) witnessed Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:1-44 for the whole story). Sure, those later mocking Jesus said, “He saved others, he cannot save himself” (Matthew 27:42), but deep in the inner beings of Jesus’ disciples there must have been the thought, “Yes, He did save others, so He can save Himself. He raised Lazarus who had been dead for four days, so He Himself can be raised from the dead.” Their experience of seeing Lazarus raised was “money in the bank” for their faith during the darkest time of Good Friday.
The Transfiguration. My second example of how many of the things Jesus did and said served as “money in the bank” for His disciples both during the events of Good Friday and in their later ministries is Peter, James and John’s witnessing Jesus’ transfiguration (see Mark 9:2-13).
As the fledgling Church witnessed to the Risen Christ there were skeptics who asserted the message being preached was just made up. The Old Testament was not fulfilled in the New. God the Father did not honor Jesus as His Only Son nor did the Father bestow Glory on Jesus. “Why do you believe all that, Peter?” someone might heckle. “Why do you believe this is true?”
Peter’s response was “Because I witnessed it myself on the holy mountain. I saw what happened and I heard the voice” (see Peter’s testimony to the events of the Transfiguration of Jesus in 2 Peter 1:16-19).
When our teaching or our testimony is challenged we refer people not only to God’s written word in the Scriptures but also to what we experienced as God worked supernaturally in our midst.
As I write this, the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is referring people to his newspaper ads about abandoned property. It seems there are numbers of people who have forgotten about bank accounts, stocks and insurance policies that are their rightful property! We might wonder how people could forget things like that, but many of us have forgotten our spiritual “money in the bank.” As a result, when things are going badly, though we possess riches, we live in poverty. How can we recover that which is truly ours?
First, ask God to remind you. Get quiet with the Lord. Ask Him to remind you of times when He worked supernaturally in and for you. As you recollect events, write them down.
Second, ask others. Ask friends, family and fellow church members, to remind you what God has done in your life. Write these down, too.
Third, make a list. Give each one of these events a short title — like the title of magazine article — so when you see the title, you’ll remember the story. Make a list of the titles. Put photocopies in easily accessible places, for example, your car’s glove compartment, your dresser, your wallet or purse.
Finally, review the list. When you’re in a tough spot and your faith is waning, read over this list of what God has done in your life. Reading that list is like withdrawing from your “money in the bank” in a time of need.
This Really Works
I’ve been encouraging people to do this for years. Periodically someone emails or snail mails me that they took me up on my suggestion. They made that list and reviewed it during times when faith needed to be made strong. Their unanimous verdict, “This really works!” If you take me up on this, please let me know how it works for you. +