Quarters & Collection Plates
Do you ever get the sense that God is trying to tell you something? Maybe a word keeps appearing in unexpected places. The sermons you hear over several weeks have the same theme as random messages on your podcast feed. A friend keeps coming to mind. Sometimes the message is subtle. And sometimes the message is through a screaming child.
So far, one of our biggest challenges in parenting is teaching our oldest daughter to sit. Just sit. This is especially problematic in church when sitting is an unspoken requirement. We have tried everything short of standing on our heads. While I feel we are making little progress, I suspect there will be a day when she will successfully complete an entire service without climbing out of her seat. Or trying to climb over the seat. Or under the seat.
In our efforts to keep her entertained while staying in one place, my mother-in-law brings little goodie bags for Annabelle to play with. They include quiet toys and intriguing gadgets to capture her mind. One Sunday she included a mini purse with a quarter for Annabelle to give in the collection plate. She played with the purse for a while and enjoyed holding the quarter. The only problem came when it was time to place the quarter in the collection plate. The tug of war began. Literally. I eventually won only to have a crying child who had to be carried out during one of the quietest, most respectful times of the service. #thisisparenthood
Giving a quarter seems like a task simple enough for even a toddler. But as I was tugging at the quarter trying to convince my at the time 19 month old that she should willingly give this money, the theme, the word that has been appearing in unexpected places surfaced once again.
And God spoke to me through 25 cents and a child.
While Annabelle is too young to have any concept of the worth of money, the lessons here are transferable to my own life. I often hold onto money in the same way, sometimes playing tug of war with my heavenly Father. If I lived like God is my supplier, I would have no problem letting go of the quarter. Because the reality is, God has more quarters than I could ever know what to do with.
When I start to lose my head over money, I often refer to 1 Timothy 6:6-8,17-18.
“But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
There it is-the word that keeps appearing. No, not money. The word is generosity.
Money has more to do with our attitudes than the amount in the bank account. I am convinced that if we treated money, talents, and time as if they were not ours in the first place, we would live much fuller, freer lives. And the irony is, none of it really belongs to us anyway. One step towards this liberating way of living can be summed up in that one word. Generosity.
Generosity is more than a one-time gift, more than a tithe on Sunday mornings, more than a random act of kindness. Generosity is a lifestyle, a practice that speaks more to our trust in God than the amount given. Generosity has to do with time, talent, money, possessions, and words. And ultimately, generosity is a heart issue. After all, everything is.
Take a look at your own hand to see what the quarter is in your life. It may be money. But generosity may need to come from another area as well. God is the inventor, producer, and giver of all quarters.
We just need to open our hands and put them in the plate.