I found a penny lying on the pavement the other day. It was a little dirty, and only a penny, but I picked it up anyway, put it in my pocket, and said a quick prayer of thanks.
When I was growing up, my grandfather had a real gift for spotting dropped coins. We would walk along the sidewalk or in the parking lot, and he would stop and point out a penny or nickel that someone must have dropped and others must have overlooked. He’d let us pick it up and put it in our pockets, feeling like we had stumbled upon a treasure. There it was, lying in plain sight– for anyone looking for it! As a grown-up, I have often found loose coins, and they remind me of Grandad’s love of simple gifts and unexpected pleasures.
Some people won’t pick up such coins. “They’re filthy!” “It’s not your money.” “Who knows where that money’s been, or where it came from?!””It’s just a penny. Big deal.” That’s okay. I’ll never get rich picking up stray coins, and I wouldn’t keep someone’s lost wallet. It’s not really about the money. It’s about the adventure of an unexpected blessing. Grandad was equally excited about sharing other interesting finds–a four-leaf clover, a robin’s nest, spotting a family of bunnies at the edge of the garden,
I read an anecdote once about a wealthy man who always picked up stray pennies. Someone asked him why, with all his wealth, he chose to pick up such small change. He pointed out that each coin was stamped with the phrase, “In God we Trust.” He said the coins reminded him that God was the author of all his wealth, and that God’s blessing were like the coins–there for anyone who was looking for them! And so, each penny WAS indeed a treasure– not in material value, but for the reminder of God’s faithful provision and His goodness. I think that was what my Grandad was trying to teach us.
God gives good gifts– whether they are worth a lot materially, or good for our physical, emotional, or spiritual health. God gives freely, and often unexpectedly. I am reminded of how God provided Manna in the wilderness. It didn’t look like food. It was lying on the ground and had to be gathered up. It was there in the morning, and gone with the hot sun. Anyone could gather it, but not everyone gathered wisely. It was an unlooked-for gift: a reminder that God saw His people, cared for them, and provided for their needs.
Another time, God sent healing to a man named Naaman (see 2 Kings 5). Naaman was looking for a miracle cure, but was told to dip himself in the Jordan River seven times. The miracle wasn’t in the Jordan River–Naaman himself complained that there were more important (and cleaner) rivers back in his own home country. But the miracle was in the willingness to trust God’s instruction. Naaman did what God commanded, and his leprosy disappeared! Sometimes, God’s provision doesn’t seem to make “sense” in human terms. Naaman expected something magical and showy–something complex and important. And he got a miracle– but one that came from simple faith and humble circumstances.
24 When they came to Capernaum, the collectors of the two-drachma tax went up to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the tax?” 25 He said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do kings of the earth take toll or tax? From their sons or from others?” 26 And when he said, “From others,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are free. 27 However, not to give offense to them, go to the sea and cast a hook and take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for me and for yourself.”Matthew 17:24-27 ESV
In another instance, Jesus sent Peter on a miraculously small adventure. Peter was a fisherman, so it was no great adventure to catch a fish. But in this case, the fish had, in its mouth, the exact amount of money needed to pay the Roman tax for himself and His master! Jesus could have made the coin appear from nowhere. He could have refused to pay the tax. He could have asked one of His other wealthy followers to pay the tax. Instead, He had Peter do something so ordinary as to be ridiculous. But the result was just what was needed. Peter didn’t catch a fortune. But he caught a blessed reminder of God’s care and provision.
In the same way, we can ask God for good sense– wisdom and discernment– as well as good “cents”. God will meet our needs. Often He will do it in unexpected and surprising ways. Sometimes, it will require us to look down, stoop, and even get our fingers in the dirt (or the river, or even a fish’s mouth!). But we can rejoice to remember that God sees us, knows our needs, and sends us Manna, or sometimes pennies from Heaven, when we least expect it!