Find a Penny, Pick It Up
by Selenia Vera
I headed down the stairs to the basement with my arms full of laundry. I noticed laying on the water drain, near the washing machine, a dirty penny. I thought about picking it up. I also thought, “It’s more work to stoop over and pick it up than it’s worth.” Why, even the drain rejected it. My mind drifted to my mama’s bedroom where she and I would sit on the edge of her bed each evening when it was time for me to get money for school.
“I don’t know why you don’t want them,” she’d say referring to the pennies. “It’s American money.” Those were the words she would say nearly every evening. I can still hear her voice crystal clear.
She would empty out her little snap change purse onto the bed and count out how much change she was going to give me for school snack. As I would quickly gather all the silver coins and toss aside the pennies, she would follow me in frustration, collecting the pennies into her hand and shaking her head. I’d say: “The pennies don’t buy anything.” To which she would reply: “Yes, but when you have a lot of them, they buy a lot!”
I smiled, as I remembered her and murmured to myself, “Okay.” I walked over to the drain and picked up the dirty penny. Instantly, there came a whisper in my soul drawing me back to the present moment. I knew it was from the heart of God: “It’s not just a penny, it’s a reminder that there is still one.”
“Still one what?” I asked out loud.
The Lord was responding to a prayer I had prayed just days before. My church hosted a movie night. We watched The Finger of God 2. Basically, it is a documentary on how God is using simple people to love, pray for, and heal strangers on the street or anywhere they go. My heart was moved that evening with a compassion that can only come from a loving, heavenly Father. As I drove home that evening, I prayed, “Father, I want to love souls. I want to know when You are compelling me to speak, to pray, to heal. I want to be brave and move in miracles. God, please enable me. Help me.” I didn’t mention it again.
As I stood there in the basement, staring at the penny in my hand, I recognized that God was using that penny and responding to me about my prayer—showing me that my desire is really His. It is His heart for people. He longs for “the one.” The one left behind, the one forgotten, the one that needs healing; and like the penny’s inscription, the one that longs to trust in God.
My mind flashed back to that movie night. I knew God was trying to sensitize me to His great love for the lost. He was empowering me with faith—faith to accomplish what I asked Him for. Indeed, He was answering my request, and He was using a penny to do it. I can’t explain it. I just knew God had begun to open my heart and prepare me for the assignment.
Like the assignment of His own precious Son, who came to us one Christmas day, He was showing me how Christ keeps coming to us; how He reaches for us and pursues us; how He stoops down to gather us.
A great truth was revealed to me in that moment. One I will stand upon going forward—and forever—that Jesus came like a lowly, insignificant penny, despised and rejected of men, with no comeliness that we should consider Him. We esteemed Him not. He is the stone that the builders rejected—a reality and truth to which I add, “the penny we often overlook.” He came as a great gift. The only necessary gift. And while I have overlooked people and potential God-moments, like dirty pennies laying on the drain, He has not. And He knows, just like my mama knew, that just one penny and all the gathered pennies are worth more than I could ever imagine.
Jesus came not only so people might be forgiven and receive eternal life, but also to overthrow everything that devalues our lives. He came to show us and give us back our worth. “For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Those works that have rejected, despised, and attempted to destroy us, many times making us feel less than a dirty penny.
Yes! For unto us a Savior is born, the Savior which is Christ the Lord!
This one lowly penny depicted so clearly to me His love for the preciousness of every person and so vividly illustrated to me this truth.
“Go ahead,” I hear. “Consider them. Go ahead, love them. You can do it. Just like the guys in the movie. Yeah, when you find a person forgotten (just like that penny on the ground), you should stoop and pick them up. They are worth it.”
As I prepare to celebrate Christmas and spend my “pennies,” remembering why He came, my prayer is: “Don’t let me be quick to forget and discard the Christmas story.”
May we all remember that for us, who know this Savior of the world, every day is Christmas and that we were all forgotten “pennies.” May your Christmas, my Christmas, forever be changed by this beautiful gift of love. Merry Christmas!
How can the Christmas story help you see people’s worth with new eyes?
Selenia Vera resides in Kansas City and has been on staff with the International House of Prayer for more than a decade. She currently serves as the buyer/purchaser for the Forerunner Bookstore. You can visit her blog at seleniascribbles.blogspot.com