Deep down--underneath the layers of all our other needs--what the heart aches to have, and prays to receive, is a closeness to God. And when the ache and the prayer are formed into words, His whispered answer is a sweet cadence to the beat of our hearts. We know, in those moments of clarity, that He understands. We know we hear His voice. We know we are loved beyond comprehension. These moments become pivotal points of remembrance. They focus our fragile faith on unwavering truth.
A few years ago, the idea of "penny prayers" caught my ear, and I knew I wanted to join in. A friend told me that every time she saw a penny on the ground, she'd pick it up, store it away in a jar, and say a prayer for her future husband. Then, one day, she would give the filled jar to her husband on their wedding day. I loved it, and instantly began looking for pennies.
So I walked everywhere with head bent down, eyes roving the ground for coins. And as often happens when beginning a conscious search, I found nothing.
No penny, no nickel, no dime, no quarter. Though I did find the occasional round of chewed gun, browned over with dirt, masquerading as a penny before my hopeful-then-disappointed eyes.
After some weeks, I began to question the meaning of such a fruitless venture. Did this mean God had no man in store for me? No person to pray for, to store the coins away for in faithful diligence?
My overthinking mind overly thought the situation a hundred times.
I told a friend this, and she gave me a saucy grin, saying I should be looking for the quality coins: the nickels, the dimes, the quarters. Her words stuck with me, however jokingly they were meant. I wanted a quarter, not a penny. The treasure-coin coveted for filling the meter and operating coin laundry; for the soda pop machines and the guilty-pleasure bubble gum stand.
One pallid winter morning, I walked to a coffee shop. My hoping heart poured to God as I, again, found no coins along the course of my route. And in the pouring, He gave me peace. He seemed to touch my heart that morning. And I found myself telling God--in words that only come from heart-to-hearts with Him-- it's okay if there's no one. You are enough.
The desire that had found a home in my heart was still settled within me--I knew it as I prayed. But the giving away of the future, the laying it before the All-Knowing, was freeing.
I grabbed my coffee at the shop and walked upstairs to find seating. A two-seater by the wall was free. I pulled out a chair.
And right there, right under the table, was a bright quarter full of silver shine.
I picked it up and just held it, turning the coveted coin over in my fingers. Feeling the smooth sides, the grooved edges. It's a funny feeling to hold an answer from God in your hand. The heart feels full and rich and wonders why it ever doubted that He heard the ache and the prayer? That shining quarter became my Ebenezer stone:
"[S]amuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer [stone of help]; for he said, 'Till now the LORD has helped us.'"
I brought that quarter-stone home and saved it away in my jewelry box (where it still sits today for me to lift the lid and see). And when times feel shaky and I forget His goodness, that little quarter speaks volumes about the way God knows me so intimately. Because it wasn't that God was promising me a husband that so fed my tearful soul (though He would, indeed, go on to provide my prayed-for husband). It was that fact that He heard and knew what I needed.
So, our soul-filling Abba, let us hold tight in remembrance to those Ebenezer stones, the odes to Your goodness. And may this new year be full of Your grace.