I saw little Jenny today before service. She was wearing her “special dress” and looked so happy. When she saw me she came running over and gave me a huge hug. I wonder if she knows how special that makes me feel? A few minutes later Sara and John arrived and came over to where I was standing as Jenny ran off to explore.
As we stood and talked about the weather and how John’s hunting had been going, I couldn’t help but notice how Sara and John were dressed compared to most of the other people around. They weren’t dirty or anything, and in fact from my visit to their home I know they were wearing their nice clothes. But as I saw the women walking by in their brightly color skirts, and saw Sara in her taupe-colored threadbare dress, I couldn’t help noticing that she looked out of place.
Even compared to me, their clothes were simple. It actually made me feel a little uncomfortable. I wear simple clothes by choice – as part of my turning away from worldly things – but their fancy clothes were simpler than my simple clothes. It made me wonder how much I had really turned away.
So there I was thinking all this as we were talking, and then Sara asked me, “What do you think of my new dress? Is it too much?”
It caught me total off guard and I didn’t know what to say. I ended up saying something like, “What do you mean? It’s a very nice dress.”
Sara face flushed and she looked the other way. After a few moments – and a few breaths – she turned back towards me. “I told John it was too nice, but he insisted I get it.”
John looked very serious, “I keep telling Sara that it’s okay to have nice things. We live very simple lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have nice things. We try to be content with what we have, but if we work hard it’s okay to have nice things too.”
“I see.” was all I said. How lame was that?
“I think it’s been ten years since I’ve owned a new dress, and wearing this one feels so strange. I keep asking myself if I deserve it, if I’m worth it, but John says…”
“I say yes, you deserve it.” John interrupted her. “You work hard for our family. You don’t complain about anything. But most of all God said that each of his children is worth more than all the gold in the world, and if God thinks you’re that valuable, then your worth enough to own a beautiful dress.”
Sara blushed again. “Yeah, that’s what he says and he makes me blush every time. I think he says it just to make me blush.”
We were all quiet for a while and I tried to think of something to say, the Sara added in a hushed voice, “I feel a little guilty wearing it. I usually am able to put in five or six copper pieces in the offering, but this week I only have a single copper half-piece. I have a new dress and I’m shorting God five pieces of copper.”
I tried to smile at Sara as God was convicting my own heart. I loose more copper pieces each week than they probably have to live on. I felt around in my pocket and felt three coins. I pulled them out and found that they were all copper pieces. I handed them to Sara and said, “I know this isn’t the whole amount you’re short, but will you add these to your offering today.”
Sara smiled at me. “This is a nice gesture, but it doesn’t make any difference if you give me money to put in and then put that much less in yourself.”
“That would be true,” I said, “if I was going to put in less. But I’ve already put in my offering, so I can’t put in less. In fact after talking with you I’m going to go back to my room and get some more to give.” I looked around and saw Julie. I called her over. “Hi Julie. Do you have a few extra copper piece I could have?” Julie felt around in her pocket and pulled out three coins and handed them to me. “Thanks, I’ll talk with you later.”
As Julie walked off, I gave the coins to Sara. “I want you to have these, too. You came here and I want you to know that God values your gift more than any other gift that’s given here. You come here and give what you can’t afford to give because you love God. Like you told me when I came to your house, God will provide. Today God has provided an offering for you to give, and a beautiful dress to adorn the beautiful woman he made you.”
Sara blushed again.
“She does that when I tell her she’s beautiful, too.” John said.
“Sara. You are beautiful, on the outside and on the inside. If you want proof just look at your daughter. She’s one of the happiest children I know, and she is always ready to help someone else in need. Did I ever tell you how I first met her? Jenny was comforting a little boy who had been knocked down by a man who was running away from me with my coin purse. She has such a big heart, and I know she got it from you.”
Sara looked back at me. She smiled. “Thank you. I think that’s the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me,” then she reached out and gave me a hug. When she released me John took my hand and shook it, then the two of them walked into the chapel.
I stood there thinking about how precious Sara was and how much I could learn about living in faith by following her example. I went back to my room and got the thirty silver pieces I had been saving up for a new riding cloak. I slipped it quietly into the offering bowl. I figure I don’t really need a new riding cloak. The cloak I have is fine, and I don’t really get to ride much.