Last May, my mother-in-law died quite suddenly and unexpectedly. She was very dear and it was a deep personal loss to me, as well as my husband.
As we were walking across the parking lot to attend her funeral service, something caught my eye. Lying in the parking lot was a penny--our American one cent coin. I picked up this small copper coin and tears filled my eyes. The little penny felt warm in my hand and the message inscribed on it also warmed my heart.
The profile of Abraham Lincoln is engraved on the front of this small coin, as well as the year the coin was minted and these inscriptions--"In God We Trust" and "Liberty." These words comforted me. Yes, I could trust God. Mother Luker would live again because God has promised us the hope of the resurrection. I could also trust that He would be with Dad and comfort him, as well as my husband, his brother and sisters. At that moment, those words were an absolute assurance to me that God is, indeed, trustworthy!
There was a message of hope in the inscription of the word "Liberty," as well. Mother Luker was now liberated from the sorrows, pain and suffering of the flesh. There was liberty for me in that understanding. I didn't have to worry about Mom's fate or her future. I could "stand fast in the liberty by which Christ has made us free" (Galatians 5:1).
I walked on into the chapel, glancing at the coin as I sat down. The profile of Abraham Lincoln caught my eye. He had been a man of conviction and courage. He didn't just talk about his convictions, but LIVED by them and died for them. Mom, too, had lived by her convictions. She was a woman who loved God and loved her family, an honorable woman. She lived and died, holding fast to those values. Like Lincoln, she, too, had come from humble roots and background. She had been born on a farm in northern Tennessee and that simplicity remained with her all her life.
I turned the penny over and for a moment was surprised. I had forgotten that the back of the coin was engraved with the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. How fitting that seemed! Many people were coming into the chapel, all there to honor and remember Mother Luker. Mom's gentle spirit and tenderness would always be remembered by those who had known her. There would be no large memorial erected for her--just a simple grave marker. But, the biggest memorial to Mom would be her family--her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She influenced all their lives by her love.
Just above the engraving of the Lincoln Memorial on the penny were the Latin words, "E Pluribus Unum." Though it has been many years since my Latin classes, I recognized the concept from the words: "From many, one." Here, in this little sun-lit chapel, people were gathering for Mom's funeral service. Many different religions were represented. As I looked around, those Latin words seemed very significant. Ultimately, through the plan of God, we will all be united into one family, the family of God. The power of God will take MANY and make them ONE!
I turned over the penny once again and the year it was minted caught my eye, 1986. Twelve years ago. The copper was dull brown with age, the engraving worn in places. But the value of this coin was not diminished by age. It was still worth one cent. With cleaning and polishing, it could even look new!
Mom was 82 years old when she died. She had experienced many things in those years and many changes. Like the penny, she'd been around a while. She was also "worn" by life. Her hair was gray, her face wrinkled; but just like that penny could be restored, I knew God was going to restore Mom. She was going to be raised incorruptible, immortal--shiny and new.
To some, she may not have seemed all that "valuable" either. She wasn't famous. She wasn't rich. She wasn't brilliant. She was just one simple, humble woman, like this one cent coin. Yet, she was very valuable to God. As He gathers all of us, one-by-one, our value is increased, just as pennies gathered become $1, $100, $1,000 or even $1,000,000!
I slipped that little penny into my pocket, thankful for the messages and comfort it had given me. The next time you find a penny, pick it up. Take a moment to think about it. Is there a message for you?