Saturday July 11th was my 3 year penny anniversary and it was a banner day! It seemed that everywhere I went I found a penny. I’d started the day with the hope that I would at least find two so that I would hit the 10,000 mark but the change just kept coming. By the end of the day the total count was 10,136. That’s a lot more than a penny a day that’s almost nine cents a day and every one of those pennies bares the same message, “In God we trust.”
I kept thinking with each penny that it would be the last one and the count would stop but that wasn’t the case. That’s how my life has been in terms of change the last three years. You get to a point where you think it’s going to stop only to find that the change still keeps coming. A friend sent me a fortune she found in a cookie that reads, “The secret of vast riches begins with a single penny.” It’s a fitting reminder for me that I am penny rich.
I say this because all this change has taught me so much. At the beginning of my penny journey I was desperate to hear God’s voice and I did with every penny I found. I remember days when some of my penny finds brought me to tears. I was sick, scared, and completely overwhelmed. I needed constant reassurance from the Lord that everything I was experiencing counted for something. That it would all add up and serve a purpose.
In the last three years my physical health has been restored. When I go to the doctor and hear the good reports I think to myself God healed me one penny at a time and I am thankful beyond words for that. While I recognize that in our lives all healing is temporary I have needed my good health during the last two years to get me through some very emotionally challenging circumstances. One battle was fought and won to prepare me for another battle.
The greatest lessons my penny riches has taught me is that your focus can’t always be on the battle. You have to stop often, pick up your pennies, and remember that God’s grace is sustaining you. His love takes shape in the form of your friends and family cheering you on. His love manifests itself in the unexpected and undeserved kindnesses shown to you. His love shows up in all sorts of big and small ways but you’ve got to stop for just a minute and acknowledge that or you absolutely lose sight of it.
As Christians we tend to forget that we will never be done in our lifetime with fighting the battle to advance God’s kingdom. If we’ve truly committed our life to fulfilling the purpose God has for us then we are going to be engaged in battle after battle. Some of those fights will feel like little squirmishes and others will feel like epic battles that consume you. In the midst of these you keep asking yourself, “When will it be over?” and you survive by telling yourself, “Everything will be better once this or that happens.” You adopt a mindset that centers on the idea that once you get this, that, or the other thing in place you are done.
That’s not how life typically works though and I would suggest it is foolish thinking. Why? Because opposition means you are on the right track when you are trying to fulfill the purpose God has for your life. We don’t want to accept this but it’s true. The Scriptures tell us this but we seem to forget this all the time which only leads to disappointment. If your peace can only be found in the quiet seasons of your life you may never know any peace at all.
What I’ve come to learn over the last few years is that it’s a very slippery slope you walk on when you focus on the uphill climb. The best traction a person can find on the battlefield of life is to focus on the vast riches of God’s grace. It’s those riches that are supporting you as you march on.
By God’s power and light you can, if you stop long enough to do so, see through and feel over the storms that come your way. In that light standing still – you can feel the fresh spring of his Spirit flowing through you. This is when you will see God revealing his secrets to you. Nothing opens your eyes more to God’s hand at work in your life than the storms He allows you to go through. These are the moments when you can see what Peter saw in the boat when Jesus walked on the water to him and told him, “Do not be afraid; it is I.”
The scriptures tell us that Peter saw the wind. They don’t say he felt it they say that he saw it. He could see the wind and he could see Jesus. Two images joined together in order to strengthen his faith. But he had to choose. He had to decide whether or not he would keep his sights on the wind and its uncontrollable nature or he could fix his eyes on Jesus. If he’d chosen the wind the odds are he wouldn’t have gotten out of the boat and then he would have missed the unbelievable experience of walking on water.
I am penny rich without a doubt. I know in my heart that every penny God has brought me was intended to make me stop and reflect on the trustworthy nature of God. They’ve been reminders to me that the storms of life are not what my focus should be on. When I stop to pick up a penny I truly believe that God is reminding me that He will provide for me and protect me no matter what my circumstances are. Stopping long enough to remember that and refocus my mind makes a lot of cents -especially in the stormy world we live in.