By Jennifer Hein
Twenty-five dollars and eighty-four cents. That’s how much money is sitting on my kitchen counter as I write this. Coins neatly stacked in one-dollar increments. Some short stacks of quarters, some dollar coins, and some groupings of ten-penny stacks pushed close together to equal a dollar.
All added up, my oldest child has in his possession $25.84 worth of coins saved from emptied banks, emptied from daddy’s pockets, cleaned from vehicle cup holders, or found on the sidewalk.
Actually, that last sentence isn’t entirely true. While our boy has saved much of that money on his own, the truth is that nearly half the total value of his loot came to him in a far easier way.
You see, when the time came awhile back that our boy wanted to add up his savings and do some dreaming about how to spend it, this eager young man was the recipient of an act of radical generosity.
I couldn’t tell you much about the day it happened, or the details of what new toy he might have been dreaming about that prompted the sudden desire to dump out a big pile of coins and count it. I honestly couldn’t tell you how long the coins sat neatly sorted on the dining room table before we finally counted them!
What I CAN tell you is the part of this story that really stands out: The moment that his little sister took the entire contents of her bank, dumped it into his pile, and declared that she wanted him to have all her money so he could buy something that he really wanted.
The moment that his little sister took the entire contents of her bank, dumped it into his pile, and declared that she wanted him to have all her money so he could buy something that he really wanted.
Let’s just sit with that for a minute. An 8-year-old boy, likely dreaming of a new Lego set, piling up all the coins he has with a hopeful heart that it will amount to enough to fulfill his heart’s desire.
His mother goes about the day’s business nearby, inwardly knowing that the contents of a child’s coin bank don’t really buy much these days, when in walks his 6-year-old sister with her own heart set to cheerfully give him every last penny she has to her name. In that moment, my heart stood still.
I’d love to tell you my first reaction was one of deep insight and joy in the beauty of this moment, but that would be a lie. My first instinct was to question her choice, afraid for the potentially epic battle that might come once they realized there was no way to know for certain which money belonged to which child.
This momma did not want to have one more topic of tense negotiation in my day, and this had the potential to get ugly. No way, more drama was not for this momma.
What happened instead was the insistent giver stating her case: that she knew she wouldn’t get the money back, she really wanted her brother to have enough for a Lego set, she was sure he’d let her enjoy it with him, and that she really wanted him to feel happy.
The action was so full of selfless love that recalling it now makes my heart swell with love and pride. Our sweet daughter then turned to me, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “And besides, I really don’t need more toys anyway. I already have so many wonderful things.”
So there it was, the moment that God used to remind me they are listening, they are watching, that He is molding their little hearts through the most simple daily interactions.
The moment that gave me a glimpse into how He has created my daughter in His image for a purpose and that He is shaping me not only as I lead, but also follow my children in their responses to His leading.
My mind reeled with thoughts of whether I should try to make it fair. Should I allow this? Would they regret this? Was my daughter being foolish with what she had saved, or merely living out a Matthew 6 trust that God would provide all that she needs?
Just maybe it was time for me to step back and let them figure this within the parameters of their own relationship and in the unique ways God has created them to interact.
The moment that gave me a glimpse into how He has created my daughter in His image for a purpose, and that He is shaping me not only as I lead, but also follow my children in their responses to His leading.
And so the money sat for a few weeks, waiting to be added up, until this weekend when we finally took the time to count it together. $25.84 is a great total! Our sweet girl is still content with choice, and her brother very conscientious about spending his loot wisely on something that they can both enjoy.
As parents we will talk about the value of tithing, giving, saving, and spending and break down the total into increments for each, but in the end my son will have a great time hunting for just the right new Lego set!
The real revelation this weekend wasn’t the total of those coin piles, however, or how that money would be spent. God used this simple, loving interaction between my two oldest children to affirm our choices as a family to live out generosity on multiple levels.
He whispered to my heart that they are indeed being affected by what they see, hear, and experience. But more than that, God used my children to remind me of how beautiful it is to watch the interaction of a cheerful giver and a person willing to receive in love and humility, for there is a time for both activities.
God used my children to remind me of how beautiful it is to watch the interaction of a cheerful giver and a person willing to receive in love and humility, for there is a time for both activities.
Over the coming month I will be asking God to reveal more deeply what it is He would like me to take away from this, taking some time to meditate on 2 Corinthians 9.
How might I trust Him more with what I have in my possession? Is there a place I need to be shown a need for His forgiveness, or another’s?
Perhaps He is inviting me to look at where I could live more generously with my time, relationships, finances, personal giftedness, or possessions. Am I being a cheerful giver the way I saw my daughter demonstrate? Am I being generous to please Him, not myself or others?
What I know for sure is this: sometimes God breaks into my everyday with something simple that stops me in my tracks, as though He’s inviting me to follow just a bit differently than before. This time it was through my children, but since the Thanksgiving season is my favorite of the year, you can bet I’ll be mulling over how generosity and thankfulness go hand in hand!
Sometimes God breaks into my everyday with something simple that stops me in my tracks, as though He’s inviting me to follow just a bit differently than before.
“You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (2 Corinthians 9:11). Will you join me in spending some time reading through 2 Corinthians 9? How might God be inviting you to follow Jesus differently as this year draws to a close?