Devotion in Motion: Find a penny, pick it up

1 Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust. Psalm 16:1   (NKJV) 

By Bro. John L. Cash

While running an errand today I saw a penny on the sidewalk. It prompted a flood of memories as I bent down to get it.

The first thing I thought of is how a lot of people won’t stop to pick one up. After all, they’re not worth much, and they’re not even made from solid copper anymore. Years ago I when I was still teaching high school, the cost of a teacher-lunch was $2.05. My friends and I made a game of trying to find five pennies on the ground by the time we had walked the distance to the lunchroom.  More often than not, we were successful because our students discarded pennies they received in change.

Picking up the penny also made me think about how I felt about pennies when I was a child. Fifty years ago (when I was in kindergarten) there were still things that could be bought for a single cent. A big piece of Dubble Bubble cost only a penny. There were dozens of candies that could be bought for a penny apiece, and I remember some (delicious) caramels that sold TWO for a penny. Back then, children didn’t get sweets (or pocket change) as often as they do now. Naturally, nobody left a penny lying on a sidewalk.

(Incidentally, when I was in first grade, an extra carton of school-milk cost $.03. And when I was very young, I bought a Coca-Cola at a soda fountain for six cents. I think I paid six dollars for a soft drink at a movie theater not too long ago. My how times change! But I digress….)

The penny I picked up today reminded me of the one I nearly passed by. A preacher-friend pointed to the gleaming portrait of Lincoln shining in the Mississippi sunshine and chastised me for not taking it. When I countered that it wasn’t worth the effort, he replied:  “You always pick up a penny, John, because every coin has a sermon written on it. Every one of them says, “IN GOD WE TRUST.”

Since that day, I’ve never failed to retrieve a stray cent. Instead, I see every penny as a reminder of God’s unfailing presence and His great love for all of us. It’s a sermon that each one of us needs to carry in our hearts and minds—and our pockets: “In God We Trust.” 

Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 32 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. He recently retired after 28 years as a Mississippi public schoolteacher, and is now a stay-at-home-grandpa with his new grandson, Landon Cash. He and his lovely wife, Susan, live in a pretty brick house in town (which happens to be next door to the nursing home.) Their kids include Spencer (age 26), his wife Madeline (age 26), and Seth (age 23), and his wife Leanne (age 22). You can send him a note at