Roy Exum: Pick Up That Penny

Friday, September 6, 2019 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Many years ago I was in the crowd when, during a talk, I heard a brief story as an illustration I seem to have never forgotten. I had an early-morning doctor’s appointment yesterday and, as I realized I would be even later if I stopped for my first Diet Coke of the day, I yielded to temptation, certain I could make my apology even more effusive if my throat wasn’t as dry. Yet between me and the store’s front door, a penny was lying on the ground. The speaker from years back had told us to never pass a penny by, but to pick it up, make careful note of the tiny “In God We Trust” over Abraham Lincoln’s likeness, and then trust God to answer a simple one-sentence prayer we should offer up on behalf of some unknowing stranger we might see who may benefit from a totally-anonymous nudge.

Ever since I heard the suggestion, it is a fun little extra on any given day to find a “one cent.” But was it just happenstance this time? Late yesterday afternoon, this in the big scheme of how stuff really works if you believe in such things as “a God moment,” I came across a story I had never read before.

Understand, this was about 10 hours since I first found Thursday’s penny and had used it about a half-dozen times. Laugh all you want and call me nuttier than a Reece’s Cup but, so help me, the story was entitled “Pick Up A Penny.” It was attributed to my all-time favorite writer, “Author Unknown,” and I must share it.

* * *

It begins, “Several years ago, a friend of mine and her husband were invited to spend the weekend at the husband's employer's home. My friend, Arlene, was nervous about the weekend. The boss was very wealthy, with a fine home on the waterway, and cars costing more than her house.

The first day and evening went well, and Arlene was delighted to have this rare glimpse into how the very wealthy live. The husband's employer was quite generous as a host, and took them to the finest restaurants. Arlene knew she would never have the opportunity to indulge in this kind of extravagance again, so was enjoying herself immensely.

As the three of them were about to enter an exclusive restaurant that evening, the boss was walking slightly ahead of Arlene and her husband.

He stopped suddenly, looking down on the pavement for a long, silent moment.

Arlene wondered if she was supposed to pass him. There was nothing on the ground except a single darkened penny that someone had dropped, and a few cigarette butts. Still silent, the man reached down and picked up the penny.

He held it up and smiled, then put it in his pocket as if he had found a great treasure. How absurd! What need did this man have for a single penny? Why would he even take the time to stop and pick it up?

Throughout dinner, the entire scene nagged at her. Finally, she could stand it no longer. She causally mentioned that her daughter once had a coin collection, and asked if the penny he had found had been of some value.

A smile crept across the man's face as he reached into his pocket for the penny and held it out for her to see. She had seen many pennies before! What was the point of this?

"Look at it." He said. "Read what it says."

She read the words "United States of America."

"No, not that; read further."

"One cent?"

"No, keep reading."

"In God we Trust?"

"Yes,"

"And?"

"And if I trust in God, the name of God is holy, even on a coin. Whenever I find a coin I see that inscription. It is written on every single United States coin, but we never seem to notice it! God drops a message right in front of me telling me to trust Him. Who am I to pass it by? When I see a coin, I pray, I stop to see if my trust IS in God at that moment. I pick the coin up as a response to God; that I do trust in Him. For a short time, at least, I cherish it as if it were gold. I think it is God's way of starting a conversation with me. Lucky for me, God is patient and pennies are plentiful!

When I was out shopping today, I found a penny on the sidewalk. I stopped and picked it up, and realized that I had been worrying and fretting in my mind about things I cannot change. I read the words, "In God We Trust," and had to laugh. Yes, God, I get the message.

It seems that I have been finding an inordinate number of pennies in the last few months, but then, pennies are plentiful!

And, God is patient...

* * *

It’s not lost on me that sometimes it is us who needs the penny the most. As my great mentor Elmer Pettyjohn used to teach: “Sonny boy, God doesn’t always come when you call Him, but there has never been once He wasn’t right on time.”

royexum@aol.com


Simple War Widow Leaves A Memorable Legacy

Planning Ahead For Winter Road Safety

Roy Exum: The Whistleblower


Every day it seems we read the obituary of another unheralded senior citizen from one town or another across our land, that time has finally taken from us. A grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt, cousin ... (click for more)

The long awaited season of autumn has finally arrived in Bradley County. This time of year brings along some very special moments that we can all look forward to year-round: meeting a cool breeze ... (click for more)

For a guy that endured the evolution of personal computers, I’ve never forgotten one of the earliest truths: “GIGO -- Garbage In, Garbage out.” As a newspaper reporter who started with Royal ... (click for more)


Opinion

Simple War Widow Leaves A Memorable Legacy

Every day it seems we read the obituary of another unheralded senior citizen from one town or another across our land, that time has finally taken from us. A grandpa, grandma, uncle, aunt, cousin or friend that bravely served our country in uniform, and even worked in our factories that supplied our troops with the means to fight. They will forever be remembered as one of those ... (click for more)

Planning Ahead For Winter Road Safety

The long awaited season of autumn has finally arrived in Bradley County. This time of year brings along some very special moments that we can all look forward to year-round: meeting a cool breeze as you walk outside, sitting by a bonfire with friends and loved ones, layering up on bleachers to watch football, stepping on crunchy leaves along the sidewalk, watching as the trees become ... (click for more)

Breaking News

Worker Stuck In Boom High In The Trees Climbs Safely Down Ladder To Shorter Bucket

Firefighters and EPB crews helped a worker stuck in an extended boom truck high up in the trees on Friday night. Quint 13, Engine 15 and Battalion 2 were dispatched to 1001 Woodmore Terrace at 6 p.m. They found a tree service boom truck extended with the business owner in the bucket. He had two helpers with him trying to find a way to get him down. Firefighters ... (click for more)

Funeral Will Be Tuesday For East Ridge Man Who Died In House Fire

The funeral service will be Tuesday for a 62-year-old East Ridge man who died in a house fire on Thursday. James Fred "Freddy" Robertson died after being taken to a hospital. Lisa Crowe, 62, was in critical condition. East Ridge Firefighters responded at approximately 10:39 p.m. to 1302 Adonna Lane. Upon arrival heavy smoke and fire was coming from a single-story residence. ... (click for more)

Sports

UTC Nips The Citadel With Frantic Fourth-Quarter Comeback

The Chattanooga Mocs may have been down, but they were never out. Putting together one of the most exciting and stirring comebacks in UTC history, the Mocs rallied for three touchdowns in the final quarter to defeat The Citadel Bulldogs by a 34-33 final. The difference maker was a 12-yard run by senior quarterback Nick Tiano to tie the game with 28 seconds to play. Victor ... (click for more)

Mocs Host Citadel On Military Appreciation Day

The Mocs close our the 2019 home football schedule on Saturday against The Citadel. Kickoff is set for 2:04 p.m. (E.D.T.) at Finley Stadium. This is another key Southern Conference showdown, sponsored by UTC's Gary W. Rollins College of Business Veterans Entrepreneurship Program. Gates officially open at 12:30 p.m., and tailgating can begin as early as 8:00 a.m., around the ... (click for more)