Rats. I had forgotten to bring my secret offering. As the communion music ended, I opened my purse to find a single wheat back penny. I had saved wheat backs for years, hoping to cash them in someday for a large profit. I figured by the time I was eighty my collection would be worth say, fifty cents or a dollar. My investment savoir-faire amazed me.
It’s not that I begrudge you this wheat back, Lord, I thought. But, what about the deacon who sees me put it in the plate? I’d hate him to think I’m cheap. You wouldn’t want that to happen would you, Lord? Since I’m the preacher’s wife, I should maintain some dignity here, don’t You think?
Several months earlier, the Lord had nudged me to bring an offering whenever I attended church. He didn’t specify an amount. He only asked that I bring something in addition to my tithe, every time.
The first few weeks, I obeyed with ease. I usually had an extra dollar or two in my wallet. If not, I could rummage around the house before church and find a bill or coin to bring.
My obedience soon grew horns of smugness. Not only was I giving extra each week, I was giving in secret. Wow. I impressed myself with my devotion to the Lord. Until this Sunday.
Lord, I’m the minister’s wife. Won’t me putting a penny in the plate set a poor example?
Still no answer. Finally I slipped the penny onto the crimson felt and bowed my head, pretending to appear nonchalant.
I’d love to tell you that since that day, numerous strangers have flagged me down on the street to put hundred dollar bills in my hand, or sent me cards bursting with checks.
Instead, I received a greater blessing. A corner of my heart was set free.
I’ve always longed to obey the Lord. Do whatever He told me, without question. I’d prayed many times, “Lord, give me an obedient heart. Help me follow you.” But I had a chain around my soul. I worried what people thought of me. Especially people in our church. Because we were their pastors, I secretly believed that their opinion of me was important.
I cared too much for their respect. And not enough for God’s approval. Now He was asking me to toss down my pride by giving him a penny. One cent. It was worth at most, five cents to a coin dealer. Much more to Him who saw my secret motives.
At last, I relented. I let go of the wheat back, and my worry. As the penny landed on the pile of bills, my fear landed at Jesus’ feet, replaced with surrender. A new joy burst into my heart: the joy of obedience.
If I ever become wealthy and the Lord asks me to give it all away, I trust I will obey without a blink. After all, it’s only money. Not worth a cent compared to the offering of an obedient heart.
What do you most love to give: time, work, gifts, or encouragement?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeanette Levellie is an author, speaker, wife, mother, and grandmother. She lives with her pastor husband and three recliners-full of cats in Paris, IL. Find her on Facebook and her personal blog at Audience of ONE