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  • Writer's pictureKaren Pennington

A $5 Investment in Eternity

Updated: Oct 20, 2021

I lost my umbrella yesterday morning. And by "I lost it" I mean I gave it away.

I was in the middle of my 1.6 mile walk to church, as I do every Sunday morning, and it was quite damp outside, with the storm clouds threatening to send drops on my carefully fashioned hair. I came prepared with the umbrella in my backpack. I had found it on a clearance rack for only $5, but it was the best umbrella I had ever had.

I didn't want to give it away. The drizzle had just started, and I wanted to protect my hair. I was slotted to sing lead on one of the praise songs during the service. I wanted to look good, to represent God well.

Within seconds of raising the umbrella, I saw him. He was the same man who had caught my eye at the coffee shop just a few weeks prior, as he clawed through layers of garbage in order to find and drink a cup with just a few drops left of discarded coffee. I had felt God's prompting to buy him a coffee. I didn't want to do that either. I was in a hurry to get to church, to more seemingly important things. But God's Spirit wouldn't leave me alone, so I bought a coffee and a breakfast wrap and I offered them both to the man, along with a few kind words.

Now this same man slowly limped towards me along the sidewalk. Once again I felt God's prompting. Once again I wanted to ignore it. But God seemed to be repeating the conviction, getting louder every time. So to stop the nagging feeling in my heart and mind, I handed off the only thing standing between me and a serious hair emergency. It was a quick exchange, augmented only a few words and a smile to a man who had never demanded or even asked anything of me, and who could barely bring himself to look me in the eye.

As I finished up the last half of my walk, I thought about how hard this man seemed to work at staying out of the public eye, to remain unseen, and how most people seemed all too willing to ignore his existence. Of the several times I had seen him around town, he had always been polite, never obtrusive or entitled. Yet I wondered if there was a single soul on earth who truly cared about him. Did he matter to anyone? At that point, God broke into my thoughts and very clearly said to me "He matters to ME!" For the rest of the walk I forgot about my hair getting wet. It took all of my focus not to wet my face with tears of compassion and broken heartedness for that man whom God loves so much. Matthew 25:31-46 foretells of a time at the end of this world when Jesus Christ will separate those who have lived according to God's love from those who have rejected it. In this case, the dividing line will have everything to do with how we treat those who have no ability to either earn our kindness or repay us. In reality, that will serve to be the greatest investment of our lives, and investment in eternity. Yesterday morning I sang my song at church. I sang it pretty well, with my damp hair pulled back in a ponytail. I don't think anyone noticed the difference. I hadn't gotten very wet. But a few moments after I entered the warm dry church, the rain got much heavier. I hadn't really needed that umbrella after all, but that man did. I'm quite certain that this very, very small gesture of giving, made partly in duress under the hounding of Heaven, was the most important thing I did all day. In reality it was not a loss, nor even a sacrifice on my part. It was a $5 investment in eternity.

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