Fifty bucks.

That’s what I was looking at for a rather exorbitant library fine  if I did not find two books that I had been renewing … and renewing … until the jig was up: no more renewals. For the love of Pete.

This was bound to happen sometime; in all seriousness, we check out about 30-45 kids’ books every time we go as three weeks of story-time staples and easy readers for my kindergartener. (“Did you leave some for the other kids?” my mom asked once.) Yet strangely, my kids were not born responsible; odd, I’m sure. And though we aim for vigilant book etiquette around here with 30 or so borrowed books regularly in our care, drop-off day always means a treasure hunt. I check in all the usual places: under the bed, on the top bunk, under my bed and chair. …

But even the usual places were yielding zilch to my fastidious searches — especially when I found out that 50 smackeroos were coming from the budget of yours truly if the furniture didn’t cough ‘em up. I began to pray: Lord, this is Your money. If you want me to spend it on library books, uh, help me to be okay with that — but I’d certainly prefer to spend it on something I actually need. You see, at the risk of sounding irreverent or utilitarian, God is a little like an infinitely better form of Google: Sometimes I can’t believe I forgot to check there first. He knows where it all is, how to get there, and what to do with it! Plus He loves me, which trumps Google every day of the week.

I searched harder: The search had extended under the dryer and washer, and the pantry (yes, the pantry). Mild panic was setting in. The prayers became more ardent. Lord, I know you know where these silly books are. Fifty bucks for something I could get for a third of that on Amazon?! I was kicking myself for checking out those particular books. They weren’t that great!

Then drop-off day arrived: time to face the music. Where haven’t I looked? There are a mind-baffling number of book-sized crannies in a house. I pawed through boxes, pressed my face to the carpet as I peered under more furniture. I was praying still, but at this point, surrendering to the fact that God’s ideas might have been different than mine, for reasons He knew. Just before we left, I changed the sheets on the top bunk bed, and as I slid the sheet over the corner … What was that sticking out waaaaay down there, under the bed we’d already cleaned out?

There it was. And not joking — five minutes later, the other book turned up under a dresser with about ½” of clearance. I triumphantly hopped out the door, bound for the library, which was once again my old friend. I had fiercely hugged the son who’d shimmied under the double bunk to pull a portion of the 50 bucks from under the bed.

On the way to the library, my heart was practically singing not just because of 50 bucks saved, but because of a God who cares about my little things and who orchestrates my circumstances to communicate with me. He’s a God who gives me so much more than what I deserve — like the lack of a library fine. And I love that He delights in seemingly little, happy gifts.