The Quarter

God sometimes teaches us big things in small ways. Looking back on it, this event seems silly, but for some reason it has stuck with me and comes back to me often. I was at work one day and as I usually do I had put exact change in my pocket for a cup of coffee from the cafeteria at lunch. I was kind of tired and the thought that a cup of coffee was waiting for me at noon was quite welcomed. About 10:00ish, Pam who sat in the cube next door came over and said “Pat, do you have a quarter I can borrow to get a cup of coffee from the vending machine?” Well my first thought was to say “no, I don’t”, because I wanted that cup of coffee at noon. But that would be a lie, I did have a quarter in my pocket and it wouldn’t hurt me to skip the afternoon caffeine. After a brief internal struggle I realized the right thing to do would be to give the quarter to Pam. Afterall, I knew she had been pretty stressed lately with fast approaching deadline and a lot of work left on her project. So I gave her the quarter. Of course, now that I was short on change, that cup of coffee now out of my reach was all the more desirable and I began to regret giving the quarter to Pam. Then I thought “hey, if I really gave the quarter to her for the right reason, I shouldn’t be complaining to myself about it”. I felt a little sense of peace, realized what I did was good for both Pam and myself and went on with my work. About 15 minutes later, in walks Pam again. This time she hands the quarter back to me and says “thanks but nevermind, I found another quarter in the bottom of my purse”. And she left. At that moment, a flood of sayings hit my mind, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, “it is in giving that you will receive”, “Patrick, don’t be selfish” (that one was from Mom). I also had a strong sense that God was looking over my shoulder with a smile and a chuckle with His hand jostling my hair like you would to a little kid. It was like He was saying, “gotcha Pat, that was a good one”. In a small way, I was tested, I fortunately did the right thing, I accepted the consequence, and I even got my cup of coffee back.

In the great scheme of things it was a small event. Both Pam and I would have survived just fine if neither had coffee, no one would be maimed or injured by the outcome and no one was going broke over the incident. For some reason God figured that I needed a little lesson, on some very fundamental aspects of life. He chose to do so through a cup of coffee and a quarter.