The Wealth of His Blessings
by Janet Perez Eckles
“Dad, are you crazy?” my teenage son said to Gene, my husband.
My son’s reaction equaled mine.
Gene exhaled a long breath. “I have a plan.”
Our small retail store business started slowly and it promised a good future, but 9/11 made the journey an arduous struggle.
One evening, Gene came home and plopped on the couch, exhausted. “We need to withdraw from our savings again. We have no choice.”
I sighed with resignation, and although withdrawing from our dwindling savings account was the last choice I’d make, I gave in. The stress and daily demands of the business drained us both emotionally and financially. But Gene’s diligence and commitment kept the business going.
He had spent hours verifying, checking, and comparing. “Something is really wrong,” he said under his breath.
Money was missing. The receipts didn’t match.
The next step was to identify the employees responsible and the method used in the theft. In order to prevent unfair accusations, he hired a private detective. And with no delay, he placed hidden surveillance cameras.
The details appeared on the screen. The first of the culprits displayed her calculated craft. She pocketed cash received from customers and destroyed the tell-tale receipts.
When she was caught red-handed and arrested, she signed the confession. The on-going theft, including merchandise, totaled $40,000.
Our struggling business couldn’t handle such a loss. “I have to think this through,” Gene said.
I gritted my teeth, trying to contain my anger. “They need to pay for this.”
“I have a choice to make,” he said. “I guess I could pursue litigation against these people even though they have no way to repay. That would mean endless court proceedings, most likely leading to dead ends.”
But we had reached a financial dead end too. And we were about to lose our business.
“Or the other option,” he said, “I can forgive them.”
He opened the Bible to Matthew 18:22-35 where we read the story of a man who was forgiven of a great debt. And rather than being grateful, he demanded a debt owed to him by another man to be paid in full.
Everyone advised Gene to pursue full restitution with interest. “It’s your right. The law is on your side. You need to make them pay,” they said.
The defendant’s mother contacted Gene. “My daughter is not a thief. Her husband was behind all this. Please don’t send her to jail!”
Gene stood by his convictions not to send them to jail, but to set them spiritually free. His plan went into action.
He invited the woman and her husband, who had also participated in the theft, to come to his office. They practiced a religion profoundly contrary to Christianity. So he introduced them to the Bible. He then read passages about forgiveness, and with illustrations and further readings from God’s Word, he showed them the God we serve teaches to forgive.
Gene dropped the charges. But he also settled on a specific amount to be repaid. The amount was miniscule compared to the total of the theft. But it was important for them to understand that, although forgiven, consequences follow sinful actions.
I sat across from my husband at the kitchen table. “I’m proud of you.”
“People will think I’m a fool for not seeking complete restitution. And I know I have that right. But I’d rather give up that right than miss an opportunity to teach them about our God.” He got up from the table. “Besides, our sons are watching.”
And they were. Our three teenage sons followed this episode with curious interest. They saw their Dad choose between being a victim or a victor. But more importantly, while they witnessed our business close, shortly after, they saw God bring another opportunity for Gene; one that went beyond our expectations in finances and prosperity.
Our sons will inevitably face unfairness in their lives. But the illustration of their Dad’s choice will resonate in them. They will know the richness of a life that honors God, obeys His commandments and relishes in the wealth of His blessings.
Janet Perez Eckles is an international bilingual speaker, author of #1 best-selling, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta, radio host and personal success coach. Her passion is to help you see the best of life. www.janetperezeckles.com