Don told me he was excited when he saw the wallet on the ground the other night just before Christmas. He thought maybe this was finally the little break he was looking for. The wallet was stuffed with cash.
It's been a tough few years for Don. He lost his job last year and has been struggling financially ever since. With two daughters in college it's good that at least his wife is working. Recently, Don got a job selling and servicing wholesale meat accounts. Though the position has potential his first check was meager.
Don happens to be a ward councilman in a local municipality. He was on his way from a council meeting to join other city officials for a little Christmas gathering at a place called Mattingly's on North Lindbergh Boulevard. Stopping at a bank ATM on the way, he spied the wallet in the drive-up lane. It appeared to have been run over several times and the cash was bulging out.
Don retrieved the wallet and pulled out of the lane. Reflexively looking over his shoulder this way and that to see if anyone noticed, he started counting the twenties. He stopped counting just short of $200. Wow, that could really help right now, he thought.
It took only a moment for Don to realize there's really no decision to be made. He pulled out the driver's license to see the owner of the wallet was a 71-year-old man from Spanish Lake. Don called home and his daughter Googled the name to get the phone number. The man was shocked, not yet realizing he had lost the wallet. Don assured, "I'm headed to meet associates but I'll bring it to your house first thing in the morning." Instead the anxious man suggested he drive to the restaurant to retrieve the wallet.
At Mattingly's, Don told the others the story of the discovered wallet. The council members, police chief and other officials who were there of course were all intrigued and applauded Don's integrity in the matter.
Eventually the older gentleman arrived. Extremely relieved and grateful, he put his hand on Don's shoulder and commented, "Very few people would do what you did. Please let me give you something."
"No, no" Don replied, "you have a Merry Christmas."
At this point Don's eyes moistened and his voice cracked slightly as he continued with his story. "That was worth more than $200, it was worth a million," he said quietly.
When Don got home that night he clicked on the TV and plopped on the couch for a few minutes before going to bed. The old 1938 version of Charles Dickens' "Christmas Carol" was on. Don watched as Scrooge was brought face-to-face with the course of his greedy, selfish life. Through the various visions Scrooge was put to the test and given a second chance. In his "born again" life he turned to generosity and selfless care of others.
Don reflected back on that moment when he thought that just maybe the found cash was intended as a personal blessing. Now he was sure of it.
Pastor Bob Levin serves at North County Community Church, 7410 Howdershell Road in Hazelwood. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.