A few years ago, one of the mobile phone companies had a television campaign depicting people reading their phone bills and fainting or falling through the floor because of excessive charges.
Well, I could have done one of those commercials the other week when I saw my bill was nearly triple the usual.
As I reviewed the detail, I saw the conundrum immediately: My internet card had a data allotment of 5,242,880 kilobytes. My usage was 17,970,609, translating into a charge of $500!
After picking myself up off the floor, I called my service provider.
She oozed empathetically about the shock and horror I must be feeling. “I only downloaded an audio book,” I tell her. “And my son downloaded a few songs. I had no idea we had drawn so much data and the ramifications of doing so!”
“Let me see if there’s anything I can do,” she said, and then left me to brood in silence.
A few minutes later, she returns. “Because you’re such a valued customer, I can give you a credit for $125, but that’s all I can do. I’m sorry.”
I was grateful for the token, but that really wasn’t the reason for my call. Primarily I had wanted to complain about the limitations of the card and express frustration around the lack of information about how the card worked.
Still grief-stricken, I thought about all the things I could do with $500, or even $375. I had been deliberately working on being a good money manager and trusting God to provide. But I had just spent $500 on a book and some music! What kind of stewardship was that?
I knew the “Why, God” question was irrelevant because the trials of life happen to us all. They are opportunities to learn, to grow, and to trust him. But in my heart, I also know I look for God to guide me and even to protect me from my own ignorance and stupidity.
As I’m thinking these things, hunched over, head in hands, I whisper more in rhetorical lament than actual prayer, “Why didn’t you warn me?”
I’m completely taken aback when in my spirit I hear, “But, I did…”
My mind flashes back to two months earlier. That month’s phone bill had a $65 charge for data overage. I had speed dialed my service provider then, too. This is when I first learned that my card had a data cap.
That time I had downloaded a number of construction blueprints. I assumed the blueprints were kilobyte-heavy because of the graphics, so it never registered that I had to budget kilobytes usage for what seemed to me to be routine downloading.
This memory reminded me that I couldn’t say that I didn’t know there was a potential problem. In retrospect, it felt as though God had tried to use it to as a teachable (and much less expensive) moment for me to educate myself and use wisdom.
Instead, I had chosen to remain ignorant.
This has led me think about other times God may have tried to guide me. I’m discomforted to consider how often I don’t listen and chose ignorance, negligence or procrastination instead of taking heed. And these are just the times I know about from hindsight. This says nothing of the times God’s grace circumvents my deafness in ways I’m not even cognizant of.
What’s more, I’m aware there are times when God has tried to lead me to serve others and I have not listened. Such as when he drops the name of someone in my head to call, send a note or spend time with. These thoughts lay on the surface of my mind’s soil, but never take root for fruit. I’m saddened to think of the number of times I might have been used for a blessing, but chose to ignore the prompting.
I suspect that if I could view a Divine communication data screen, and see just how often God tries to guide me for my good or for the good of others, I’d be shocked, dismayed, and then disappointed with the me I don’t often want to see.
As a woman under construction, I want to be a better listener. May God forgive me for dropping the ball so many times, and may I learn to focus my hearing so I can recognize him saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”
And then, just do it!