Tables Turned

She dropped the sealed envelope carelessly on my desk.

“There ya go.”  She grinned.  “That ought to make your day.”

I picked up the white envelope with my name handwritten across the face and, not wanting to take the time to find a letter opener, ripped it open.  The page within was covered with numbers and medical abbreviations.

It didn’t make my day.

I have spent the last year and a half working tirelessly at getting back into shape.  A lifetime of bad habits had taken their toll and my body was showing the years, both inside and out.  For the first eight or nine months after I began, I had religiously followed a diet low in animal fats and also engaged in a rigorous exercise schedule.

Reaching my goal weight and receiving the news from my doctor that the tests all showed that my work had achieved my target numbers, I knew I had to keep working.

I did.

Well, I kept to the rigorous exercise schedule anyway.  Most weeks still find me putting in forty to sixty miles in cycling or running.  My weight is still exactly at the goal set last year.  There has been no fluctuation.

I may have slipped a bit in my dietary regimen, but no matter–right?  Exercise burns the calories; my weight is exactly where it should be.  What else do I need?

I looked at the numbers on the paper in my hand again.  This had to be wrong!

My doctor will not be happy.

I am not happy!

Disappointment surged through my whole being.

I had believed that everything was perfect.  It was, in fact, all wrong.

The tables have turned.

At work that same afternoon, I made a phone call I didn’t want to make.  I have written before about my problems in dealing with representatives from big businesses.  The hierarchies in those companies make it astonishingly difficult to communicate, much less to rectify issues.  I usually hang up the telephone after these calls with elevated blood pressure and in a bad mood.

I expected to meet with failure.

A customer had reneged on an agreement and consequently, the huge banking establishment had rescinded their payment to us.  The transaction was for a large enough amount that I didn’t want to lose the money without at least making an attempt to collect it.

I had no hope of success.  I was already feeling like a victim and placing blame on the customer for being dishonest.

There was a mud hole of unhappiness before me and I hopped right in to wallow in it.  I anticipated a long stay.

My pessimism stemmed from that fact that I hadn’t a leg to stand on.  I had not followed the bank’s protocol and had shipped the merchandise to a different address at the request of the customer.  There was no way I would receive a reinstatement of the payment.

No way.

Moments later, I was astonished to hear the bank’s representative say the words.

“Mr. Phillips, I will be happy to issue a credit to your account in that amount.  We can’t charge the customer again, but we want to make sure you don’t have a loss.  We’ll cover it.

I stopped in mid-wallow.

“What?  You’ll issue a credit?  Huh?  Did I understand you correctly?”

The questions kept coming to my mind.  It was almost as if I didn’t want the company to make this right for me.  I kind of liked the victim role.  I could blame someone else for my unhappiness.  If not the customer, then the bank could stand in as the villain.

I enjoyed the mud hole.  I wanted to wallow awhile.

I hung the phone up in a daze.

Maybe it was just a ruse.  He probably just wanted to get rid of me and didn’t want have to face my tantrum. It was inevitable.  He had to know that and just wanted to avoid the confrontation.  There would never be any money in my account.

I checked my account today.  Right there in the deposits column, I saw it.  Three hundred and twenty-six dollars–deposited from the banking firm this morning.

I want the satisfaction of being angry at the greedy corporation that won’t give me my money!  I want to hate forever that customer who wronged me!  Crooks!  Liars!

But no.

The tables have turned.

In black and white, the numbers tell their tale.  Two separate occurrences, both with unexpected conclusions.

Tables turned.

The good news I hoped for because of my own hard work?  There was none there.  I had done some things right, but not everything.  I couldn’t achieve the result I had hoped for, no matter how hard I had worked.

The bad news I expected?  Blown away, like the morning mist.  With one stroke of a pen, the wrong was made right.  I have no villain to complain about.  I am not a victim.

I open the Book and find the words there in black and white as well.

All my own effort, for all of my life, has been in vain.  All for naught.  The good I do can never outweigh the wrong which has been done.


The gift has been given and credited to my account.  One who had no obligation whatsoever to pay the debt did so.  I can claim no part in its payment, and I can never make restitution to the One who paid it for me.


Tables turned.

“Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?”
(Matthew 18:33 ~ NLT)

“Sometimes, when you least expect it, the tables turn and that scary feeling that has taken hold of you for so long somehow turns into hope.”
(David Archuleta ~ American singer/songwriter)

© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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