I once owned a two-dollar bill. Many people do not know that they are still being issued by the Federal Reserve.
This is the only currency I have possessed that is included on a list of “6 Pieces of Forgotten U.S. Currency.” I have never seen a half-cent coin since it was discontinued in 1857. The $500 bill has not been circulated since 1969 but is still considered legal tender, though it’s worth much more than $500 to collectors.
Three-cent coins existed from 1851–89. The $5,000 bill was originally created to help fund the Revolutionary War but was recalled by President Nixon to keep money launderers from using it.
Then there was the $100,000 bill, featuring an image of Woodrow Wilson, that was never issued for public use or circulated into the general economy. It was created at the height of the Great Depression for banks to use in making transactions with each other. These bills cannot be held legally by collectors, but institutions such as the Smithsonian and the Museum of American Finance are allowed to exhibit them.
A transforming daily choice
As I read the article, I thought about it in the context of my sermon last Sunday on the parables of the lost coin, the lost sheep, and the lost son (Luke 15).
Jesus told us of a woman who lost a coin, lit a lamp, and swept the house to find it (v. 8). As with all his stories, this was true to life.
The stones used to make floors in his day had deep crevasses between them into which coins and other small items could fall. For this reason, archaeologists always concentrate on floors when they excavate ancient homes in Israel, knowing that they are likely to find coins they can use to date the structure.
Jesus also told us about a shepherd who lost a sheep and went after it until he found it (v. 4). His famous third story tells us a father whose son takes his share of the inheritance and goes to a “far country” where he squanders it in “reckless living” (v. 13).
However, unlike the woman and the shepherd, the father does not go after his son. He knows that if he drags him home against his will, his son is likely to return to the far country the next day. He had to wait for the day when his son “came to himself” (v. 17) and chose to return home.
This is because, unlike coins and sheep, you and I are created with free will. Currency can be circulated and removed from circulation; coins and sheep can be lost and found; but people must choose to come home.
This is a decision you and I must make every day. I cannot surrender “tomorrow” to God because it does not exist. “Today” is the only day there is. The best way to live this day is to begin it with my Father and stay connected to him all through the day.
In this context, these observations by C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity have been transformative for me over the years:
“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.
“We can only do it for moments at first. But from those moments the new sort of life will be spreading through our system: because now we are letting him work at the right part of us. It is the difference between paint, which is merely laid on the surface, and a dye or stain which soaks right through.”
Will you come “out of the wind” today?