Why I Pick Up Pennies

What do you do as you are walking along a sidewalk or across a parking lot and see a penny laying on the pavement? Be honest as you consider your answer.

I can tell you what I used to do: I used to pass it by. I can explain why I did too: A penny just isn't worth picking up off the pavement. Unless, of course, it happens to be a 1909 - S VDB, which may be worth over $1000, depending upon its condition. But the chances of finding that vintage penny are very remote.

A penny costs the government more to produce than it is really worth. So, I just walked on past and ignored it. I didn't even stop to pick up nickels and dimes. But, if I saw a paper bill I would always bend down and pick it up. In fact the most I have ever found at one time was a twenty-dollar bill. But, a penny - well, I just didn't need it.

Besides that, there is something belittling about bending over to pick up pennies, etc. off the ground. What would people think of me if they saw me picking up a penny. I can tell you what I imagined they would be thinking: "He must be desperate for cash if he has to pick up pennies from the ground." And, that may be the reason most of us don't stop to pick up pennies. We just don't want folks to look at us and think such a thing. After all, we need to put on an appearance of successfulness.

Successfulness? Yes, there is such a word. To most folks it means they have done everything right. They seldom make mistakes. And, the mistakes they do make aren't anything to be concerned about. In fact, they are so successful that they are turning out to be BETTER than most other folks. And so, especially if you are walking across the church parking lot after Sunday morning church, don't allow yourself appear less than others around you by stopping to pick up loose change from off the ground.

I can relate to all of those feelings. If you will be honest with yourself, you can also relate to those feelings. As I have traveled through this short life I have been blessed to be able to relate to most of the same feelings that all sinners encounter. I must be honest with myself and my Savior: I am a sinner and I know all the excuses and pretenses of a sinner.

There are two basic reasons why most folks don't stop to pick up a penny from the off the ground: A penny is practically worthless, and, it would create an image about yourself which you do not want others to embrace (Even if it were the truth).

So, what changed my mind about picking up pennies?

When I worked at the local Wal-Mart store God blessed me, again, by allowing me to work under a department manager who is one of the best Christians I have known. Not only was he a great mentor and teacher, he was an excellent example of how to live a life that pleases God. He told me the following story, which is very likely a true story.

A man and his wife were once invited out to dinner by the man's employer. This was going to be a very important affair for the couple because they felt honored about the invitation. This particular employer was enormously wealthy. His financial status soared far above that of the employee and his wife. In fact, the couple became more nervous about the occasion as it approached with each passing day.

When the day of the dinner-date finally arrived the employer met the couple near the entrance to one of the most exclusive restaurants in the area. Following a formal greeting, the three of them proceeded toward the door with the wealthy employer leading the way. After a few steps the employer stopped in his tracks and appeared to be quietly staring at the ground in front of him.

After nearly bumping into the man, the couple stopped short, wondering what may be wrong. After a few seconds the employer bent over, picking up a single penny which lay on the sidewalk. He brushed it off, placed it into his pocket, and continued toward the door. The group was quickly seated and their order was taken.

As they waited for the food to be served, and, in an attempt to relieve an obviously tense atmosphere, the wife of the employee jokingly made the following comment: "I noticed that you didn't walk past that penny on the ground outside. Is that how you have become so wealthy?"

The employer smiled kindly, reached into his pocket, and brought forth the redeemed penny, laying it on the table-top.

"Read what it says." He asked.

The couple leaned forward, reaching for the penny, and pulled it closer.

"In God We Trust." Said the wife.

Then the employer explained that he didn't become wealthy by picking up pennies. He picked up pennies, and any other lost coins because of those words. He explained that God's name is holy. (Remember the words to The Lord's Prayer?) If we shouldn't use it in vain we should also make sure that it is not walked upon by passers-by. But, he also explained another reason for pausing a short time before retrieving the penny from the ground.

"It is as if God has dropped a message into my pathway and He wants to remind me to keep my trust in Him." He told how he always said a short prayer of thanks, as a reply to God's loving message. The employer went on to explain, as they enjoyed the dinner and the evening together, that a single penny can become worth more than gold or silver in strengthening our relationship with our Heavily Father.

That's the story, in so many words, that my department manager told me about why he also stops to pick up pennies. And, that's why I now also pick up pennies from off the ground. I doubt that it will ever make me wealthy but I know it will make me richer. And I want my relationship with the Lord to be as rich as possible.

People are basically all the same. I recently had the great opportunity to share this story with a lady who saw me stoop to pick up a penny on the floor. She asked me why I went to so much trouble for a worthless penny. It became my great pleasure to share my faith, along with the reason I picked up that penny.

Not only does picking up pennies strengthen my relationship with my Lord, it has given me the occasion to share the story of how His love has changed my life. Please try to remember this next time you are walking across a parking lot and see a penny lying on the ground. Lose your pride and gain a blessing from God right there on the spot. And, thank Him for the little reminder.

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