Questions, a penny, and the next step forward


Out and about / Thursday, June 21st, 2012

Confession: I circled ceaselessly through the ins and outs of this question for three weeks.

Should I return the clothes? Should I keep them?

The question was entangled in so many other things I believe, or doubt.

Uncertainty: Am I living the life I ought?

Depression: How to go on living, enjoying life, while the world is so broken and ugly?

Charity: Should I live in personal poverty so that others may have something? I know I cannot change the injustices of the world. But I want to do with my own few dollars what I ought, regardless of how large (small) a change this creates.

Renunciation: Surprisingly, more than half of me would be very happy to live as a hermit with the basic essentials of life, nothing else. This is one of my pet fantasies, and not as holy as it appears.

Ingratitude: Am I rejecting the gifts God gave me, sheltering behind a veneer of holiness in wishing to carve out a simpler (more selfish) life? Is my desire for renunciation merely a way of clinging to the small life I desire, saying No to the larger life He asks of me?

After three weeks of this I was weary, stuck, and no closer to being able to sort it all out.

I decided to flip a coin, and ask the Lord to speak.

(What? You think this is flippant? Perhaps. But also a way of releasing to Him a decision I could not make alone.)

Heads: His glory with glory. Tails: His glory with sacrifice.

Heads I keep, tails I return.

I dug a penny out of my purse. A poor man’s coin. I held it in my hand and it had been so long since I flipped a coin that I worried I would be able to catch it at all. I decided to do a single trial run for the technique, then throw the decision-making flip.

I set it on my thumb, flipped it, caught it, inverted it on my other hand, paused. Okay, I can do it. I didn’t mean to look at the trial run result at all, but I did by mistake: Heads.

Oh Lord. It won’t be heads two times in a row, and I will need to give up my purchases.

Before I flipped the coin again I shook it up in my hands, praying, and He did not make me feel silly like I deserved. Without looking I set the penny on my thumb. Heads again.

I flipped. Caught. Inverted. Opened my hand.

Heads.

His glory with glory.

I don’t want to read too much into this little test of the Lord, but simply recognize what is. For some reason He has given me the life of a rich lady in America, with ample to feed my children, to clothe my body, to share with others—while many starve and thirst and go naked around the world.

Questions remain, nagging. But I accept this answer, and pray for the grace to live it well…

…yet still to sacrifice more

always more

so that others may live.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

14 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Mom Coblentz
10 years ago

I was smiling as I read the details of your search for God’s direction. When you told me earlier that you flipped a coin, I didn’t know if you were serious. 🙂 I’m honestly glad He said you could keep the clothes, and I like how you’re thinking thru the process. But to deserve to feel silly? Don’t think so! Does God ever turn a smug, mocking grin towards an honest, hungry, seeking heart??
You’re a great lady and I’m privileged to claim you as my daughter!!

10 years ago

Wow! That’s what I would have thought would be like God to tell you. 🙂 So cool that he used a simple penny to show you. He can use anything, when your heart just wants to know and do his will. And receive deeply. You will give with more grace to those around you. Rosanna and I were just talking about this principle last night. A “productive” farm is one that that just gives and gives and gives and no care is taken to build up the soil. That is not actually productive, because it is not sustainable. The same is true in you, Sheri…when God invests deeply in you, it is because he want the fruit you grow to be rich in minerals. He doesn’t want your ground exhausted. *He wants you to know that YOU completely alive are a much bigger resource to the world than your money.* This is why, at least in this instance, he wants you to set sacrifice aside to own beautiful clothes. He loves you and wants you to know it so deeply you exude it with every breath you take. Isn’t He so amazing?

10 years ago
Reply to  Rose Mary

Oh, thank you for this analogy. I really needed to hear this.

Irene Bontrager
10 years ago

Your ability to write a great story is amazing. Your details made the smile on my face grow larger and finally a burst of laughter as I read the outcome. Sometimes God blesses us in amazing ways and sometimes He asks us to sacrifice something that is dear to us for the poor. I believe as you process these types of exercises that God will enable you to discern whether to sacrifice or buy something for yourself. In the meantime, wear these clothes as a way to bring glory to God. Who knows how God will use these clothes. So, keep your eyes and ears tuned as you enjoy these clothes. God loves to surprise His children!

Luci
10 years ago

oh my. I really do like you. Your last post resonated deeply with me and so does this one. How well I know the yearning of my heart to sacrifice, the discomfort with the unfairness of life, the guilt I feel over the many, many good and perfect gifts right at my fingertips, and that constant pull of wanting to enjoy but not wanting to be too comfortable. If God would say the word, I would be so OUT of this richness and happy (I think) in my mud hut sharing my rice with the poor.

I really, really love how well you put things into words. You’re so gifted. And I’m going to be doing some coin flipping. Maybe tomorrow.

10 years ago

I was missing your words this week and loved this story! I too idealize a kind of the hippy’s idea of simplicity, but recognize that the insistence to live simply/sacrificially/out of the norm CAN be as carnal as the greedy, materialistic mindset. ugh Hate how everything good gets twisted in this world. =/ ‘His glory with glory’–that’s how I want to live.

Fern
10 years ago

I enjoy reading your blog, you’re very good at writing. Recently I was at a thrift store and saw this huge beautiful picture I thought my daughter would like. BUT.. it cost a $100.00. Kinda steep for thrift store I thought. I sent her a picture and after texting back & forth she just couldn’t decide. I was praying we wouldn’t make the wrong decision because you can’t return anything at this store. She ended up flipping a coin and yes I bought the picture (or painting, whatever). Glad to know we’re not the only ones to occasionally make decisions this way!

Admin
10 years ago

We make decisions about choosing church leadership this way, too, except we use song books instead of a penny. 😉

Admin
10 years ago
Reply to  Shari Zook

Oh, no, I just endorse your method of making a difficult decision.

Renita
10 years ago
Reply to  Not the Boss

OK… you two. You BOTH make me laugh. Out. Loud.

10 years ago

This is so sweet and I related very well to this and your last post. I have such a hard time reconciling the difference in the way I live and the way my neighbors live. Your words gave me a lot to think about. The truth is we can’t base what is right by another’s standard of living. A few days ago, I boy who has a LOT of toys came to our house to play. He was bored within 20 minutes. I stood in the boys’ bedroom and thought to myself, “Wow, I guess the boys really don’t have very many toys.” That afternoon our neighbor children stopped by and were in awe of the few toys sprinkled across the living room floor. A few minutes later I again stood at the boys’ bedroom door, but this time I thought, “The boys have SO MANY NICE toys.” I didn’t connect the two scenarios until later; but it really helped me realize that I can’t simply even things out and feel that I’ve done the right thing. We really need to be able to listen to the Spirit’s direction for our lives….and this story is a great example of just that.

10 years ago

Do you mind if I link to this post?

10 years ago
Reply to  Christy

No, I’d be honored.