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The Head of a Quarter Dollar

If the Federal Reserve can reach consensus, there will be a new face on the $10 bill in 2020. Not just any face. A woman. Gasp.

I’m excited about this, personally. I believe it’s time for the boy’s club to make room for a girl in the clubhouse. Countless women have proven to be pivotal in our history of forming a more perfect Union. Admittedly, the ranks of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Lincoln, Franklin, Hamilton, Jackson and Grant seem hard to mess with, but let’s find a way.

With a 2020 redesign of the $10 bill in play, Hamilton’s head was naturally on the chopping block. The movement to displace Alexander Hamilton in favor of a woman had plenty of wind in the sails until Hamilton fever swept the nation. So, now we wait for the Feds to determine whether they’ll put a woman on the new $20 – which may not come until 2030 (apparently counterfeit proof currency creation is a mammoth endeavor these days) – or whether they’ll find an intermediate compromise. Personally, I like the idea of demoting Jackson. My Grandpa Pearl always said he looked crazy anyways, not to mention his regrettable penchant for slave-trading.

But it’s not the head of Hamilton or the head of an historic American heroine; it was the head of Washington that caught my eye today.

During my cool down walk, after a brief three miler, my head was filled with turbulent thoughts about, well, of all things, money. My tangled mess of thoughts about a recent expenditure unraveled into the exposure of my failed budgetary habits, resulting in a dampening of my mood and troubling of my spirit.

So, as I walked with my head turned downward, lost in anxious thought, there it was on the pavement before me.

A quarter dollar with Washington’s big head staring up at me.

“Hey, alright, twenty-five cents!” I thought. But, as I picked it up, it wasn’t the monetary value, or the head of Washington, or the 1987 minted age that caught my attention, it was four, short arresting words:

“In God We Trust.”

If the Spirit of God can speak through Balaam’s ass, he can certainly speak through a coin.

More than religious boilerplate (To venture into the other currency debate would be a journey too far down the rabbit hole), these four words seized my heart and called forth my attention. My anxiety over money revealed a present god over my heart: money.

It’s not God in whom I trust right now, it’s money, I realized. It’s not the “fear of the LORD” which is the wind in my sails, it’s this means of exchange that steers my course today. It’s not my gracious Abba Father whom I am confidently running to because of my standing in Christ, it’s my ability to perfectly manage money which I seek to control. It’s not the freedom of Christ I revel in this morning, it’s the tyranny of greed that rules my heart today.

Jesus said we cannot worship both God and Mammon. It could be easy to substitute the lower case, more innocuous “money” here, but Jesus prophetically names the god Mammon and its powerful reign over the kingdom of this fallen world. Mammon is a terribly unforgiving god who always demands more. God allows money to expose the idols of our heart and the jury has spoken today for this fellow!

After all, we’re anxious about what we adore and love, right? If I know anything about being human, it’s that we are hardwired to be worshippers. We will worship something. But whether that object is worthy of our worship is the question.

But, even in the dense fog of my anxiety about money today, the luminous warmth of my merciful and gracious Abba Father dawned upon my heart. The Spirit of God beckons the children of God to remember the gospel, to repent and turn from the tyrannical idols of the world and to receive the grace of my Lord Jesus who gave his life to set me free. By God’s mercy, he called me to the line today.

Religion says, “Obey. Do more. Then God will accept you.” Irreligion says, “You got this.” But the good news of the kingdom of God proclaimed by the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth says, “You’re accepted in Christ! Now, freely and joyfully obey.”

I’ve tried the first two paths too many times. Only the third way holds hope.

In God I trust.


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