Penny Parable

Monday, March 12, 2007
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1 Timothy 6:17 – Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy. (KJV)

How Anna loved finding coins! She would show me each one and then race off again, zigzagging, pigtails swishing, searching the sidewalk.

It was our Saturday morning ritual. We strolled around town, window-shopped, and rested in front of the coffee shop.

One morning as I slurped java and she sipped soda, I challenged her to a little game: "Find enough coins to make a dollar, and I'll double it."

Mostly she found pennies, but sometimes, she'd spot a nickel or a dime. When her coins came to total of only seventy-five cents, she became frustrated. Her enthusiasm for our little game was fading.

One afternoon, she ran up to me, shouting, "Dad, I found a quarter!" Reaching into her pocket, she froze, then burst into tears. "Oh no! It fell through the hole in my pocket! I'm not playing this stupid game any more."

There is an old saying: "Grace and mercy are opposite sides of the same coin. Grace is getting what you don't deserve; mercy is not getting what you do deserve." I devised a plan that would gracefully set things right for my deserving little daughter by mercifully restoring what for her was a devastating loss.

The next Saturday morning, well before anyone else was stirring, I went to the coffee shop, raised the seat pads on the benches, scattered coins totalling three dollars, and replaced the pads.

After walking that morning, we stopped for our usual refreshments. As we lounged on one of the benches, I said, "You know, a lot of folks sit on these benches. I'll bet coins drop out of their pockets sometimes, and they don't even know it."

Perking up, she set her soda aside and said, "Quick, Dad, get up!"

Lifting the pad, she found the coins I had hidden. Then she raised the pad on the other bench.

"Look how much I found, Dad!"

"Wow! You hit the jackpot, Anna — three whole dollars. Too bad you didn't find just one more quarter under those pads. Counting the seventy-five cents you already found, you'd have four dollars."

With a knowing smile on her pixie face, she wagged her finger and said, "No, sir, I'd have eight dollars! Remember your promise. And besides, if I put that tooth I lost under my pillow tonight, the tooth fairy might leave me a quarter."

Watching her drop the coins in her piggy bank, I thought that a man with eight million dollars could never be eight million times happier than eight dollars had made this child.

If there is a parable in this story, it is this: The father is poor who relentlessly spends all his time on a sidewalk of his own making, searching for bigger and bigger coins, yet poor in happiness, poor in what really makes life worth living. The father is rich who spends time with loved ones on life's more important sidewalk, finding and saving pennies that, as time goes by, become priceless: the ones known as memories.

Prayer: God of grace and God of mercy, grant us to see clearly what matters most, and to cherish the moments with loved ones that build memories. In the name of Jesus, Who for our sakes became poor that we might become rich beyond measure, we pray. Amen.

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About the author:

Jimmy Reed
Oxford, Mississippi, USA

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