6: The Christmas Bonus

6: The Christmas Bonus

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: A Book of Christmas Miracles

The Christmas Bonus

And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.”

~Luke 17:5

My youngest sister called just before Christmas. “Guess what?” she began.

With Jacki I never knew what to guess. I worried about her… her safety in a tiny apartment in a bad part of town, her minimum wage job, her lack of health insurance, and her broken down car. Only four Christmases ago, she was earning hundreds of dollars working in bars, dancing, living a life far apart from mine. Miraculously, God had turned her life around. I was thankful for that, but her faith, still new, seemed fragile.

I braced myself. “What happened?”

“Remember how I told you we were going to get a Christmas bonus?”

I recalled how she had recently scoured the entire floor of the small convenience store where she worked, on her knees with a tiny scrub pad. It took her over a week, but she was so proud of the clean white floor. Even with her seven-dollar-an-hour salary, she was always doing over and above at her job. She even made little doggie treats for customers’ pets. She always smiled and customers loved her. Now at Christmas, she really needed money for extra car expenses and just to pay bills.

“Well, I opened my bonus envelope to find three hundred dollars cash!”

“Wow!” I rejoiced with her. “I bet you hollered when you opened that envelope!”

“Yes! And I thanked God for always supplying my needs.” She went on to say that she paid her bills and bought a few groceries. She giggled with joy, and I laughed with her.

The next day Jacki called again. This time her voice trembled. “My manager called very upset. She had opened her own bonus envelope to find a cash amount far below what she expected. ‘I was supposed to get $300,’ she said.”

Oh, no, I thought.

My sister continued. “I had a sick feeling. The manager and I have the same first name. What if there was a mistake? What if I got the wrong envelope? And now the money is gone! But I’m still going to call the store owner right away.”

“Why don’t you wait?” I urged her. “Give it some time. Think about it. The envelope did have your name on it.”

“I can’t. I prayed about it and I know what I need to do.”

“But maybe it wasn’t a mistake,” I argued. “Maybe you were rewarded for all your extra work.” I hated the thought of her talking to the owner, who was known to be a highly critical woman, downright mean at times.

“You deserve the money. I think you should keep it.”

She didn’t listen to me. Instead, she called the owner.

“You should have known you wouldn’t get that much,” the owner ranted. “We go by the rules here and low-ranking employees like you don’t get extra. Only the managers get extra.”

She told my sister that she must return the full amount immediately. There would be no bonus at all for her. What she couldn’t pay back would be taken out of her paycheck.

Three hundred dollars… a fortune to Jacki, especially at Christmas. I was sick with anger. How could a person who owns several businesses punish someone who works so hard for almost nothing? I wanted to call the owner, write the newspaper, drive several hundred miles with all my friends to my sister’s town and picket!

My sister said no. “I did the extra work for the Lord. And I know I did the right thing by telling,” she said. “Besides, God always provides my needs.”

Shaking, I hung up the phone. My first thought was to send her $300. I’d always wanted to jump in and fix things for her. I could afford it and I wanted desperately to make it right for her. It wasn’t fair. She was still learning to trust God and now this happened.

In my heart, I heard God say, “Then let her trust Me. And you need to trust Me, too.”

So I didn’t send the money, but it was hard.

I got the call a week later. “Guess what?” Jacki chirped.

“What?” I asked tentatively.

“I bought a lottery ticket.”

I groaned. I knew that every once in a while she enjoyed spending a dollar on a lottery ticket. I didn’t think money should be used that way but I kept my mouth shut.

“I won something this time!” she exclaimed. “You need to thank God!”

My first thought was, “God would definitely not use a lottery ticket.”

On the other hand, when my mind got quiet enough, He reminded me that He uses all kinds of things… a rib, a donkey who spoke, the jawbone of an ass, mud in a blind man’s eyes, five tiny fish. He loved my sister and He’d reached into her world. Maybe it happened to be a lottery ticket.

“I won three hundred dollars!” she exclaimed.

Of course you did.

~Martha Moore

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