It was the very beginning of Grace Walk Ministries. I had been on television for the past hour hosting a “Christian talk show,” as a guest host when someone from the station came to me during a break. They gave me a telephone number and said, “This man just called. He said he saw you on the air and wants to talk to you about making a large donation to your ministry. Give him a call when you’re off the air.”
My mind raced as I wondered about who the man was and why he would call me with such an offer, since we had never met. The program ended and I tentatively dialed the number. When he answered, I introduced myself. ” Oh yes! Dr. McVey! My name is (John Doe) and I want to talk to you as soon as possible. I’ve recently received a large sum of money from a law settlement and have been praying about how to disburse it. I’ve seen you on TV before, but tonight I realized that your ministry should receive a part of this money.”
We arranged to meet in the lobby of the hotel where I was staying. When I met the man, he was friendly and obviously enthused about my ministry. He explained how he was giving a part of the money to Grace Walk, part of it to Focus on the Family and part to the Billy Graham Association. He explained how he had won an injury lawsuit and felt that he should give fifty thousand dollars to each of these ministries. Fifty thousand dollars? my mind excitedly asked. That would cover every expense necessary to get Grace Walk Ministries going and even leave money to develop conference materials, tapes, . . . in my mind I began to spend the money.
We talked for about a half hour. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his checkbook. I watched in disbelief, barely about to contain myself as he wrote a check payable to Grace Walk Ministries, in the amount of $50,000. He handed me the check. At that time, that was a larger check than I’d ever seen in my life. I profusely thanked him and he left.
I slept little that night. My mind raced as I thought about the miracle I had just seen. I couldn’t wait to fly home the next day and deposit the check and tell my family about what had happened and call the printer to tell him to go ahead with the job I hadn’t been able to afford until now and by needed office equipment and . . . The list of how the money could be used raced through my mind.
The next morning, for “some reason” I thought about calling the bank where the man’s account was held before leaving Pittsburgh to return to Atlanta. I found the number in the telephone book and dialed the number. After several recorded voice prompts, I reached an automated voice asking for the account number on the check I wanted to verify. I nervously pressed in the number on the check. “Please enter the amount of the check,” the prompt continued. 5-0-0-0-0 I excitedly pressed. “We’re sorry, but there are no sufficient funds for this check.” the cold, computer voice responded.
My heart began to sink. Nervously I tried again, this time using the number 40,000 dollars. “We’re sorry, but there are no sufficient funds for this check,” the voice answered again. I tired again – 30,000. Same response. 20,000? No. 10,000? Sorry. 1,000? I finally worked my way down to discover that the check would have only been good if it had been written for less than a hundred dollars.
Did this guy knowingly write me a bad check? I thought. Maybe he has to transfer some funds and hasn’t had a chance to do it yet. I immediately decided that I would call him and ask about it because I couldn’t stand the prolonged suspense of waiting. I dialed the number I had used the first time I called and he immediately answered.
As calmly as I could speak, I explained to him what had happened. What? he answered in disbelief. I wrote that check to you in faith! My Father owns everything and if that bank doesn’t realize that, then this world is in worse shape than even I have known!
“So you don’t have money in the bank to cover the check?” I asked. Money in the bank? I told you – my Father owns everything! That means that I own everything, he answered. Those people are in serious trouble if they don’t even recognize God’s authority!
I quickly thanked him and hung up. Later I thought that I should have felt sorry for the man at that moment. But I didn’t. I only felt sorry for me. My hopes had been dashed as quickly as they had been raised. It was a rubber check and there was no hope that it would ever be any good.
That man’s check reminds me of the promises of empty legalistic religion. Dead religion makes great promises about how it can change your life. It offers great hope that things can be different, that it can meet all your needs. But in reality, it is bankrupt. It attempts to draw from an empty account.
An authentic relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer to our needs. Only He can satisfy the deepest longings of our heart. Does your life seem empty? Don’t try to get your needs met from religious activity. Only Jesus can satisfy your hunger. Look to Him. He’ll never give you a rubber check. He always keeps His promises. In Him, you are rich.