Wednesday, May 09, 2007

$100 update: What happens when you bury your money in the ground

I've blogged about the $100 project a few times. My fellow Calvin seminar participant Al Haley just blogged these reflections on the $100 he buried in the ground seven months ago:
When burying money, especially cash, always protect it well. The Zip-loc bag I used was a good start, but… The bag should have been put inside some kind of metal or plastic box. Something mysteriously sliced a hole in the bag (a money grubbing grub?) and water got into it. The money that emerged 210 days later was dirty and damp and spotted with mold. There is abundant biblical truth in this. “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…” Matt: 6:19. It was a good object lesson to see the money so degraded. It made me feel almost physically ill as I tried to wipe off the currency and in my mind contrasted it with the crisp bills that had gone into the bag. What had I done? I had almost wasted everything.

The longer your money, your gifts, your opportunities are deferred, the easier it is to forget about them. For the first few months, not a week would go by without my thinking, “The money! I need to do something about the money.” This thought irritated me. It prompted me to scan possibilities for ways to spend the funds with something akin to divine wisdom. I thought (mistakenly) that hiding the money would function like having a rock beneath my pillow. I ought not be able to ignore it if I ever wanted to get a good night’s sleep. Instead, as I should have realized, the most human thing happened: I habituated to the money’s absence. Several months into my experiment it might occasionally come to mind, and then I would realize with a start that I hadn’t thought about it in weeks and I had been sleeping very well, thank you. If this continued, I might soon forget that shallow grave altogether.

What you do for God isn’t nearly as important as just doing something. Most of the time I’ve been involved in this project I believed that the only form of “success” would be to spend the money on some original idea that would somehow become self-perpetuating as it inspired others to do likewise. Just as Joonna and others expressed, the last thing I wanted to do was simply hand over the money to a homeless person or donate it to a charitable cause. Truthfully, once I read their accounts on this blog, I wanted to be like Debra and Nick and Al Hsu. I wanted to generate excitement and service to others and unexpected twists in the rendition of my plan that made it even better than anything I could have strategized. However, my wishing only led to a deep-valleyed procrastination as I insisted on doing things at a particular level of attainment that I now see was all about making myself feel good and important. Of course, I planned to give God credit, but everyone else would see that He had chosen me to do this great thing and…what hogwash.

Working together at this awkward thing known as the “church” often means supporting others who have already stumbled upon or been granted great ideas. I now believe a worthy way to spend the stash of money would be to shamelessly copy Debra and recruit students to teach poetry to disadvantaged kids. Or I could purchase Nathan’s book as Nick did and start a book study in our adult Sunday school class. Or I could play “tag” like Al. The point is that I don’t need to come up with anything new. All I need to do is find someone else who is already doing something brave and loving that “salts” humanity in places where people need it. [click here for the rest]
BTW, I still have an envelope with $100 sitting on my dresser. The only thing I've done with it since last November is to exchange a twenty for a ten and two fives because I needed change. And it occurs to me that I've blogged about this five or six times, but I haven't actually done anything with it.
I'm all talk, no walk. The deadline for doing something with it is June 2007. What should I do?


Llama Momma said...

Our local CPC is having a Walk for Life this Saturday. Sponsor me!


Though I suppose the question to ask here is this: what are you passionate about? There is no shortage of worty causes. Find that thing that makes your heart beat a little bit faster, and give to that.

A said...

Good challenge, Al. Difficult in its simplicity, as the temptation is to think of life's problems as best addressed with bigger bucks.

$100 is a vast fortune to the person $100 short of making rent, buying food for their family, or for a homeless persion getting the proper clothing for a job interview.

Invest well, but invest.

Tony Trendl