Verses for the Day: EXODUS 35:4–5

My mother told me that our local newspaper was looking for paper boys. And she was pretty sure that there was an opening to deliver newspapers in our own neighborhood. I was only in the third grade, but entrepreneurial blood was already coursing through my veins, so I peddled my bicycle downtown to apply for the job.

A few days later the phone call came, and I had my first job. The following Monday, after school, I rode my bicycle to the newspaper office, picked up my allotment of papers, and rode back home. After rolling the newspapers and slipping a rubber band around each one, I lifted the canvas bag over my shoulder and was off to make my one-and-a-half cents per paper. This story, along with the one about trudging to school in three feet of snow with my feet bound in rags, is part of our family’s folklore. Just ask our longsuffering daughters.

Anyway, for the first time in my life, I had “my own money.” I felt independent and free. If I wanted to, I could stop at Parmilla’s Drug Store on Main Street and buy a Dr. Pepper and bubble gum—without asking my parents’ permission. I had earned this money, and it was mine to spend.

The problem was that once I had spent my money at Parmilla’s, it was gone. And what I had spent my money on was also soon gone. So in order to be able to splurge at the drug store again, I had to fill my canvas bag with more copies of The Daily Journal and pedal from house to house . . . again. I remember, even at this very early age, feeling the dread.

Forty years later, I was sitting in the sanctuary of a small, rural church planted in the fertile hills of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. My family and I were there for my maternal grandfather’s funeral service. One of his sons, my uncle Eber, was reading something my grandfather had written. “I leave to my family something more valuable than money. I leave them something they will not need to divide. I leave my family my love for them and my faith in Jesus Christ, something each one can enjoy in full.” My eyes welled up with tears as I remembered this wise, faithful and generous man.

Today’s text invites “everyone who is willing” to bring a portion of what they earn to the Lord as an offering. Why? Because the money we give away is the money that brings us more happiness than anything . . . even bubble gum and Dr. Pepper. There’s no dread in this expenditure. Because giving reminds us that life’s most precious possessions are not those things we can see. They are, instead, the intangibles of our faith in God and our love for our family and for others.

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