How many times have you been walking along somewhere and semi-noticed a penny lying on the ground, only to keep on walking—after all, it really wasn’t worth stopping, stooping, and scooping up that little bit o’ copper? I’ve probably bypassed a dollar or so in my lifetime doing just that. But not anymore. Now, I always stop and pick them up no matter what.
Why this transformation? Perspective.
All too often, our four-year-old grandson has to go to Philadelphia to visit his dad. When this process began, we felt a certain bit of anxiety, concerned for his welfare. But on an early visit, our daughter found one of those random pennies and decided to dub it a “penny from heaven,” allowing it to remind her (and us!) that the Lord is sovereign over all, and He is watching over Nico when mom, grandma, and papa can’t see him. The penny, in other words, simply served to remind of a truth that we knew, but needed to be reminded of regularly.
Since that time, pennies have appeared in strange places and times during those Philly visits. Interestingly, we hardly ever find them when Nico is home. There have been times, and it’s been a joy to see Nico get excited over the find. He, too, has come to understand the significance. Ask him what the penny means, and he’ll tell you: “God is watching over me and protecting me.” But most of our finds have occurred when we weren’t looking for them and Nico was gone.
One of those interesting penny finds occurred on a recent Saturday morning even as Nico was heading to the airport. Normally, he and I go to our local farmer’s market every Saturday, and everyone there knows Nico by name—he’s kind of like the Farmer’s Market Mascot, since he’s been going almost weekly since he was a few weeks old. If I go alone, vendors throughout the market ask, “Where’s Nico today?” So the first stop on this particular Saturday was Farmer Joe’s booth, where we get eggs and chicken. Right away, “Where’s Nico???” I explained that he was headed east for ten days. We then went on to another conversation, and as I was chatting about something or another, he stopped me mid-sentence and said, “Hey look! There’s a penny!” I looked around, not seeing it, and he pointed to my left, “Someone just dropped it and it rolled over there, under that table, resting against the chair leg. See it?” Then I did, breathed a prayer of thanksgiving for God’s gracious care, and went to retrieve another “penny from heaven” for Nico’s coin bank. He’s got lots of them by now! Oh, by the way, Farmer Joe didn’t know the significance of pennies to us.
So, do we really think God sends those pennies? Well, yes and no. It’s not that He creates them ex nehilo just for us, but the Bible does say that not even a sparrow falls to the ground apart from our heavenly Father’s superintendence. Jesus mentioned that fact to remind His followers of God’s sovereign care for His own. So we have come to see those “penny finds” as divinely orchestrated opportunities for us to remember our God’s care, to thank Him for that care, to glorify Him for His sovereign grace and power, and to tell a little boy about this gracious God.
We’ll never pass by one of those little, insignificant pieces of copper again.