My Dad kept his wallet in his back right pocket. I remember it being thick and full of things like credit cards, business cards, a little cash, and notes he had torn from pieces of paper. There was also the plastic photo holder filled with pictures of me, my brothers, and my mom.
Dad was very far from ever being considered rich, but you’d never know it from his wallet. If we were at dinner with another family, Dad was always the first to grab his wallet in order to pay the bill. He often did so on the sly so that by the time we would finish the meal, the bill would have long been paid leaving the other Dad surprised… and grateful.
I never thought too much about his wallet until I had a family of my own and discovered how few dollars were usually in mine.
I have since learned from my Mom how tight things were when we were growing up. They would talk privately, late into the night, wondering how they were going to make ends meet. But I never knew. Dad’s wallet always seemed to have more than enough as far as I could tell.
There was the time I found my wallet completely empty. I had no where to turn, except Dad’s wallet. A difficult and tear-filled phone call home resulted in an immediate gift which to this day, I have no idea how Dad’s wallet managed. Missionaries, after all, are almost always just barely surviving financially and there was never even the slightest hint of repayment.
As Dad grew older, the need for his thick back pocket wallet changed. New technology let him carry around his calendar and notes on his cell phone as well as dozens of photos of his family.
So it was that several years ago I noticed Dad’s old wallet had become worn out and it was time for a new one. I found a new slim-lined front pocket wallet and wrapped it up for his birthday. It was the last wallet he’d carry.
It’s funny how such a simple little thing like a wallet can become meaningful. Just this past week, my Mom and I returned from a trip to visit my youngest son. As we walked through the airport I mentioned I needed a new wallet because mine had started to fall apart. Shortly after returning home, Mom presented me with a gift. Yes, Dad’s wallet. The same one I had given Dad a few years earlier.
I love this wallet. I had carried it many times before running various errands for Dad when he was restricted to his bed. When he gave me his wallet, he intended for me to use it completely and freely, just as if he were standing next to me.
There is no doubt that the main reason Dad was so generous with his wallet was because he believed God’s promise of an infinite inheritance. “Since we are His children, we are His heirs…” (Romans 8:17). To help us better understand this incredible promise, Dad made up an “Inheritance Certificate.” I’ve included a copy here.
You can also download it by going to http://tinyurl.com/nh3u62p.
Missionary Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” I think Dad understood that statement rather well and dedicated his life (and his wallet) to “gain what he could not lose.” Likewise, it is our joy and challenge here at LOGOI to continue that tradition as we help train and equip an army of national missionaries who also want to “gain what they cannot lose.” And yes, we do so with our prayers and our wallets.
As I write this letter to you, Dad’s wallet is resting comfortably in my right front pocket. I can’t help but take it out and look it over and each time I do, sweet memories come pouring back. It has my things in it now, but it will always be “Dad’s wallet.” Over time, I know it will wear down and eventually need to be replaced. That’s okay, it’s just a thing. But in many ways, it represents who I am, the choices I make, and how I live my life. And in case you didn’t know, I am my Father’s son, a co-heir to the inheritance belonging to Jesus Christ. May the Lord help me — and you — “give what we cannot keep in order to gain what we cannot lose.”