For me, the most terrible time of each month is the day our bank statement comes. We commonly call it BSS (Bank Statement Syndrome). I don't know why it is, but I have trouble getting the parsonage checkbook to balance with the monthly bank statement.
That ominous document intimidates me every time it arrives. After all, the bank's business is keeping track of accounts. They have hundreds, maybe thousands of accounts and I have just one. On the surface, it seems a rather simple thing for me to keep our checking account up to date, but I assure you, it is not. Every time I try, I lose interest.
Keeping our checkbook accurately balanced is almost like a circus balancing act; everything is up in the air. No matter how often I add those figures, I never get the same result twice. I have resorted to adding up the figures at least three times and then take the average. So far, I've been batting a .195 and have been dropped by the major league, which has lost interest in my career. This may satisfy my conscience but it does little to appease the accounting department of my friendly banking institution.
The thing flustering me more than anything else are those fees. The average bank has more fees than a West Virginia hound dog has fleas. Everything I turn around there is another fee. (I need to stop turning around.) Somebody needs to invent a fee powder.
Each bank must employ a stable of employees whose only job is to dream up these fees. How else can you explain it? These fees are creative enough to cover every aspect of a person's wallet, retroactive three generations back.
To open an account there is a fee. Each account carries a monthly maintenance fee. I have been paying this monthly maintenance fee for several years and I have yet to see someone from the bank come out and mow my lawn. What is this maintenance fee? What are they maintaining? They certainly are not maintaining my checkbook. With all the fees I am paying, I would expect someone from the bank come to my house, sit around my table, and help me balance my checkbook. I would supply the coffee and donuts -for a small fee of course.
Another thing I do not understand is the ATM fee. Why do I have to pay money to the bank to get my money out of the bank? Whose money is it anyway?
I think banks offer monthly bonuses to the employee who comes up with the most creative fee for that month to impose on its customers. Fe?Fi?Fo?Fum all those bank fees are dumb.
Once upon a time and far far away, banks would bribe customers with toasters or umbrellas to open accounts with them. Those very days are over, you can be sure. Now, I'm the one bribing the bank to keep my account with them.
Last week I slipped the cashier the usual quarter and asked her to make sure my deposit got in my account, please. I do not know whether it is bribery or just a gamble and probably would do better with the Florida lottery.
I would not mind it so much if only my checkbook would occasionally agree with the bank statement. It takes a lot of effort on my part to keep some semblance of order in my checkbook. I am not always as successful as I would like. I make mistakes and sometimes they cost me. At my bank when I bounce a $3.75 check, I have to take a second mortgage out on my house to pay the fee.
I would close my account and transferred to another bank that there is a closing fee, a transfer fee and a fee that has no explanation whatsoever. Just a goodbye jester from my bank, one last chance for them to screw up my checking book.
Some people think God should do everything for them. All they have to do is sit back and enjoy themselves and God will do everything for them. A prevalent attitude about faith supports this erroneous notion. Someone once compared this idea of faith as putting a "nickel in the slot and pull the lever" and you get what you want.
Some things in my life only God can do and I need to understand what they are and allow Him to do them. However, some things in my life God expects me to do. God will never do these things for me. I must come to grips with this distinction. If I don't, my life will be miserable.
Some people are sitting around waiting for God to do something He is expecting them to do. As they wait, they become frustrated and start accusing God of all sorts of sinister things.
Part of getting to know God is understanding this. What is my responsibility as a Christian? What does God expect from me?
An Old Testament verse puts much of this into perspective. After Solomon dedicated the Temple God responded by saying, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV).
For the most part, many people are sitting around waiting for God to balance their checkbook when He has put the pencil in our hands.
Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife in Silver Springs Shores.