Comic Belief: Free Ties

My oldest daughter went to a private university. Private universities don’t charge tuition. They just say, “Send all the money you have.” And they had taken all I had.

During these college days, I had a speaking engagement and was hoping for a good honorarium to help me pay for the tuition. But when my host picked me up, he had “stingy” written all across his forehead. When I got off the plane, I immediately knew I was in trouble because my host said, “I parked in remote parking,” as I stood there holding a suitcase in each hand. Remote parking was about a mile away. He saved about 75 cents. We carried the luggage all the way to the car and drove to the motel. If I am speaking for more than one day, I usually rent a car. I was going to be there for three days, so I asked about a rental car. This guy told me he wanted to save some money and just to call him when I needed to go somewhere and he’d take me.

He dropped me off at Joe’s Motel/Bait Shop/Chinese Food & Dry Cleaners, one of those all-in-one places. In the good motels, the glass will break if you drop it and the soap will bounce. In a bad motel, the soap will break and the glass will bounce. Also, the bolted-down TV, a required damage deposit, and the restaurant’s taking Blue Cross-Blue Shield are good signs of a bad motel. I was trying to be spiritual and content at Joe’s. If I wanted to go out I had to call for a ride, and if we ate out it was in the car.

We had a great conference. Many people came and responded well to my messages. Ironically, my relationship with the host got worse. On Thursday morning, he came by as I was checking out. He said (as he looked at the bill), “There are some personal phone calls here on the bill, and you wouldn’t want the church to pay for those.” I wanted to say, “You jerk! Those are calls to you to pick me up because you’re too stingy to rent a car.” But I was trying to be spiritual. I paid for the calls. Again, we parked in remote parking, and I walked back to the airport. By this time, I was pretty ticked off and started to pray about it as I boarded the plane. The honorarium check was pitiful. He’d taken out all the expenses, and I was down to almost nothing for three days of work. This guy would have asked for a separate check at the Last Supper. I started to complain to God, “This is why I don’t like to speak to churches in the first place!” And God spoke to me. By then we were about 31,000 feet in the air and closer to the home office, so I heard God quite well. He said, “Shut up! That guy was a jerk and stingy, but he is not the only middleman I have. I can take care of you. Be cool, drink a Diet Coke, and relax.” So I just let it go.

When I got to the office, a letter was waiting for me from a church where I’d been about two months earlier. Included were a check and a note that said, “After you left, there was such a good response to your messages that we made and sold tapes. Here’s the money.” It was a large check, more than I thought I’d get at the other place.

Why worry about stuff like this? God is loaded. He has it all. Yet so many times we want to grab for what we think we need, and all the while God wants to give us what He wants us to have. Amazing things happen when we depend on Him.

I went on a clothes fast last year. I had become an ad-aholic. If there was a 66-percent-off sale, I was there. But then I was nominated for the VISA Hall of Fame and knew that things were getting out of control. So I stopped buying clothes, including ties. After a few months, an amazing thing happened. I would show up to a speaking engagement and in my motel room would be a tie.

Who gives ties? I usually get Diet Coke and Snickers as a welcome gift, but ties? It was as if God were saying, “You’re looking a little sloppy; I’ll get you some new ties.” I quit speaking for churches and businesses. Oh, I still go to those places, but I’m speaking for God. He pays better and gives free ties.