Monday, May 28, 2007

A Penny for My Thoughts

A Penny for My Thoughts

Dedicated to All who Don’t feel
Worth a Plug Nickel

Rejected: what a painful process. It speaks directly to our sense of worth, value, loveliness and love-ability. "Reject": what an ugly label, crushing to the soul. My bank recently reinforced these truths for me. Before you wonder which bank to avoid or what I did short of robbing it, allow me to explain.

Counting coins can be a pain. Our bank has a wonderful machine that does that for you – at a price – 3%. Well, if time is money, we deemed a three-penny hit on the dollar worth the work it would do and time it would save.

So, coin bucket in hand, it was off to the lobby to dump the pennies, a few nickels and maybe a shiny dime or two into this very cool device.

It was worth the three cents to watch the machine with its little
conveyor’s belt, digital screen and buttons to push. Cheap entertainment! Coins counted, we took our tally slip to the window for our cash. Yes!

It was then I noticed it. A coin, beat, bent and I guess hard to count was sent to a coin return labeled "reject". My heart went out to this little penny. The big bad machine had spit it out, deemed it of questionable worth and not counted it among our happy haul.
Inflicted with illustrationitis – common to pastors - I fell in love with this penny – my brother. Scooping up this little lost lamb, I set it aside for future use. Not to spend, mind you.

The unbent coins presented no problem for the machine – which I shall now rage against. Since they fit its mold, its tolerance levels, its spectrum of acceptability, they were deemed of worth. Not so my little Lincoln image-bearing penny. It was a reject.
Yet, irony of ironies, after all the other pretty little coins had had their spin in the machine, they also lost some value – 3% is still 3%. It cost them to be counted worthy of the counter’s standards. They were in fact tarnished in worth and now in the belly of the beast.

But my penny – which I still have – of different bent than the others, though called a reject, kept its full value. With my claiming it as my own, its value has soared. I would not take a dollar for my penny. It not only reflects Lincoln, but yet another Great Liberator.

Called from the world, Jesus has stamped His image on and in us. Scuffed and scarred by sin and the world, defaced and devalued – labeled rejects - we have now fallen into new Hands. Like my 1977 S cent (I think it is an S– its hard to read), He has called us His very own – blemishes and all.

For those who stay on the world’s conveyor belt and let it size them up, they come out diminished, lumped together with all the other mere coins. They are cheapened by the very thing that allured them with its bells and whistles. They are reduced to tally slips to be cashed in as they are left behind.

Make no mistake, this world sees things differently than God. This Machine rages against God, His values, His ways, His people. Though its invitation is tempting, the process and product it is culpable for is nothing to brag about.

God, collector of rejects, seems to do poor public relations work. When was the last time you sought to be numbered among life’s losers and failures? Talk about an image issue. Yet, as the Word says, not many mighty, not many noble or brilliant, nor many powerful are called.

He uses the weak, the simple, the lowly and despised. The things that are not much in this world are His trophies to show to the world who His kind of people are.

Not losers and rejects per se, but anyone, everyone who will humble himself or herself and let God call His name over them. Why? So no one can boast before Him. So those who do boast can boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:25-31; Jeremiah 9:23, 24).

Are you tired of the world’s lies, its false fancy front? Tired of trying to measure up and knowing you are one more scratch away from being rejected? Refuse the world and its lusty, boastful ways. The fallen world and those who love it are all passing away. Those who do God’s will last forever (1 John 2:15-17).

Come to the One who showed His love for us while we were yet sinners. Those who come to Him – any of any kind, shiny new dimes or marred cents – He will in no way cast out (Romans 5:6-11; 8:28-39; 10:8-13). Only with Him, through His grace, is their acceptance. Rejects lose their labels and have their full value redeemed by none other than God Himself.

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