I Can't Beat God's Giving

You don’t know me. This is my story, my true story. Although I’ve been a Seventh-day Adventist all my life, I had never participated in any Investment projects—until that day.

Quite frankly, I’m known as a penny-pincher. I will always bend over and pick up a penny that someone has left lying on the ground. So approximately one year ago as I was bending over to pick up yet another coin, an idea came to me: I wonder just how many pennies and coins I do pick up in a year? I’ll make a deal with God. For the next year, every coin I find, I’ll match it with my own funds and turn them in as an Investment project.

I was very careful to emphasize “coins” and not “money” in my deal with God. With my luck, I thought, I’ll probably find hundreds of dollars. Then I’ll be obligated to match that, and give far more than I really want to.

I knew the Bible story about Ananias and Sapphira, who promised that they would give to the church all the proceeds from the sale of a piece of property. But when the profits went through the roof, they lied about their blessing. They paid with their lives.

I was going to be smarter than Ananias and Sapphira. I wouldn’t promise something greater than I was willing to give, and, therefore, I thought, God would hold me accountable only for what I had promised.

So during the year, every time I found a coin, I’d drop it and the matching amount into a little container. I found coins in grocery stores, gas stations, beneath chair cushions, in the washer and dryer—everywhere. My kids even gave me a coin or two that they had found. Their coins clinked into the jar and were closely followed by my matching amount.

A few days before the anniversary of my project, I added up the coins. I was quite surprised at the poor results of my project, and I was somewhat disappointed:

90 pennies
8 nickels
20 dimes
13 quarters

I had heard miraculous stories about how God had richly blessed Investment projects. I whined to myself, “What happened to my project?”

Then during the last week of my project, my son and I were driving down the highway. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw small pieces of paper flitting across the ground as cars swished past. I told my son, “That looks like money flying around. Let’s get back there and check it out.”

Sure enough, money was in the air, a $20 bill and a $10 bill! We joked about going to an expensive lunch, paid for by our found money. My son paused and then said, “Remember that deal you made with God?”

Although my conscience pricked me, I retorted, “Yeah, but that was for finding coins.”

No sooner than the words hit the air, it dawned on me how ridiculously selfish I’d been by trying to set parameters for God’s goodness.

So I began with a new heart to search for coins, and I was blessed to turn in $73.10 for Investment.

Did I learn anything? Absolutely! I can’t beat God’s giving—no matter how hard I try.

Thurman C. Petty, Jr.
© 2014 General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists