"Several months ago I was taking my four daughters and some of their friends out for ice cream. Wanting to have some fun before we arrived at our destination I decided that they all needed to 'earn' their ice cream by completing a dare. My oldest daughter and her friend boldly walked into the middle of a convenience store and did ten jumping jacks, counting out loud. Then my ten-year-old daughter and her three friends sang the theme song from a popular children's TV program at the top of their lungs in the entrance of a grocery store. After thinking for a few moments I handed my eight-year-old and her friend each a penny. Their mission was to walk up to the cashier of a convenience store and ask, "Do you have change for a penny?" They giggled as they stepped out of the van and stomped off with great purpose. As the girls each held up their penny to the cashier I could see a big grin begin to form on his face, then I watched him mouth the words, "I don't think so!"
"Later that night, after the kids were all asleep, I thought about what the cashier had said to my daughter and her friend. He saw their request as impossible, but I had to disagree. In Luke 18:27, Jesus said to those who had witnessed the rich, young ruler's inability to leave his life of wealth, "What is impossible with men is possible with God." I have personally experienced God taking what is impossible in the eyes of men and changing my life with a penny.
"Years ago, I walked out my front door in a mood so dismal nothing seemed to alter its course bent on destruction. I was angry with myself, angry with others, and although very difficult to admit, I was angry with God. I was oblivious to my surroundings, not knowing even what street I was on or how far from home I had come when some miniscule metal object caught my eye. Interrupting my insane introspection came a still, small, and very unwanted voice, "Pick up the penny." Like a flame that has been given a fresh blast of oxygen, I turned my fury towards this untimely intrusion. "You have got to be kidding!! I need a penny like I need one more bad memory! Forget it!!" I tried to connect again with my latest deadly train of thought when there it was again, "Pick up the penny." By this time I was a good block from where this glint of metal had first caught my eye and that very fact became my argument against doing such a foolish thing. I boldly said, "NO!" to this relentless request and continued to stomp forward. As I heard the gentle words "Pick up the penny" one more time I turned on one heel and was instantly heading in the opposite direction in one fluid movement. "Fine! Fine! I've got nothing better to do than look for a penny in the middle of a busy road during morning rush hour! I'm the fool! The jokes on me! Fine! There, there you are you little troublemaker! Are you happy n … ?" I was silenced by the loudest, clearest, stillest, smallest voice I have ever heard. With the penny only milliseconds between my fingers I listened as God spoke directly to me, "No matter what your life looks like right now, no matter how scuffed up and battered your emotions are, you are as valuable as you were the day I created you."
"I stood motionless, paralyzed by the holiness of the moment. I had been completely disarmed. Looking over that dirty, scuffed-up token was like looking in a mirror at my own reflection. But it also held a beauty that was hard to comprehend. It had kept its value. It had maintained its worth. And God was telling me I did too" (excerpts from Change for a Penny© by Sue Skalicky).
This month, gather your small group together with the purpose of distributing pennies through which God can change lives. Begin the adventure with a prayer for God's blessing and boldness then, in groups of 3 or 4, visit a nursing home, a rescue mission, a youth crises center, and/or a hospital ward (call ahead for permission and to schedule a visit). Arm each person with several pennies and index cards with the following prompts to share with the people you meet:
- When you look at Lincoln's face remember that you are created in God's image; you are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139:14).
- When you turn the penny over remember that God had to turn His back on His one and only Son, Jesus, who was crucified and died on the cross for your sins. God paid a high price for you (Hebrews 10:14).
- Whenever you spend a penny, remember that you are valuable and God has chosen to do awesome things in and through you (2 Thes. 1:5)
(Change for a Penny©).
Gather back together as a group to share experiences, refreshments, and prayer for those whose lives you've touched. Pennies are plentiful and whenever the people you have visited see a penny they will be reminded of their worth in Christ.