“It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.” -Matthew 24:46
The Great Train Robbery of ’63 that occurred in London had nothing on the heist I was involved in, known simply by our family as the “Great Piggy Bank Heist.”
I was in kindergarten at the time, and my older brother (Heretofore known as the “ringleader”) was in the second grade. It was in this state of advanced education that he gained certain, albeit incomplete, understandings of money. In school he learned that coins had some sort of intrinsic value, what value of course, was still beyond my limited understanding, but I was certain that my brother understood all those details, and would one day enlighten me with his vast storehouse of learning.
In any event, we had in our shared bedroom a closet; and on the closet floor, way in the back, were two genuine ceramic piggy banks. One was mine and the other was my brother’s. Evidently, as I learned many years later, my Mom had a tradition of giving each child a piggy bank and putting coins in the bank minted with the year of their birth.
Of course my brother and I didn’t know of such details, and while the pigs were a curiosity, they never garnered much in the way of attention; at least not until my brother learned in school that the coins contained within each pig could somehow be traded for toys. Of course the specifics of how such a transaction might come about had yet to be determined.
It was a Saturday morning, and the ringleader filled me in on exactly how this was to go down. Dad was at the store, and Mom was around the house doing things moms do. My job was to stand by the door and keep a lookout for Mom.
The ringleader explained to me that he had evidently developed a clever way of inverting the ceramic pig while shaking it at a given frequency. In doing so, he explained; the coinage would come out of the little slot on the top of the pig’s back. (Somehow in this moment of dazzling insight, he failed to notice the rubber plug on the belly of the pig, which would have made our heist considerably more successful. This and other such overlooked details would ultimately be our undoing.)
At the appointed time, I took my position by the bedroom door, and when Mom went into the garage with and armful of laundry, I gave the signal for the extraction process to start. A lot of shaking was taking place, rather nosily I might add, but not many coins were making it out.
The garage door coming into the house opened suddenly, and Mom reappeared. I quickly hushed the ringleader until she disappeared into another room.
After the coast was clear the shaking resumed. Soon the shaking took on a different resonance, more of an up and down shake pattern. This resulted in a better yield. My brother was clearly brilliant! The coins were practically pouring out onto the wood floor making a steady tinkling pitter patter sound in our closet.
In due process, I observed the ringleader skillfully sorting through the growing pile and tossing aside the dimes and collecting the other coins. I asked him why he was doing that. He explained to me, as one with an air of superior knowledge; that obviously the dimes were smaller, in fact they were the smallest coins amongst coins, and therefore they could hardly be worth much when it came time to trade coins for toys. I could find no flaw in such a sound argument. Soon he had the larger pennies stacked neatly, as were the nickels and the occasional quarter, while the diminutive dimes were set aside. With that said, he resumed the shaking.
As there hadn’t been a Mom sighting in a while and my interest in the lookout job was waning, I took it upon myself to gradually move closer to the action, away from my post so that I might study the coin extraction technique in more detail. I figured at my age, having already decided on becoming a lifelong learner, I figured it was to my advantage to pick up a few life skills along the way. This trade the metal coins for fun toys was an example of some real out of the box thinking. Gone would be the days of waiting on birthdays and Christmas times for toys.
It wasn’t long before I found myself standing behind my brother, who was on his knees and halfway in the closet, all the while skillfully shaking one of our beloved pigs. At that moment, one of the lowly dimes popped out of the pig he was shaking. It hit the wood floor and rolled just past me. I was following it with my eyes, and as I turned my head slightly, I noticed that the dime suddenly stopped as it struck a pair of shoes. Unfortunately for us, our careers as professional piggy bank boosters were over, as the dime stopping shoes were occupied by our Mom.
As I reminisced on this childhood memory of my Mom returning unexpectedly to find us boosting the piggy bank, instead of doing what we should have been doing, it reminded me that Jesus is concerned with what I’m doing with my life right now. If He were to show up unexpectedly, as my Mom had, would He approve of what I’ve been doing? As a believer and follower of Christ, I know that He has entrusted me with talents and abilities to use wisely in my earthly life. But what exactly should I be doing? While there are many things I could be doing, I would like to touch on at least three activities I sense we should all be doing.
As a believer, I ought to be living my life out authentically. By that I mean, my life should reflect the principles and character of God as much as possible and as consistently as possible. Not out of a sense of just following a bunch of rules, rather from a place of gratitude in my heart for the love and grace He has already expressed to me.
Jesus said that the love we express and show for one another will identify us with Him to the rest of the world around us.(John 13:35) My life should be marked as a life lived with integrity before God. My motives and heart should be aligned such, that I am viewing life and life situations, as much as possible from God’s perspective. (1 Thessalonians 2:4) That means that I should not allow my life to be governed solely by the approval of others. On the other hand, neither should I fall into a life of challenging others to live out their lives authentically, if I’m not also willing to live by those same principles that Scriptures teach. (Romans 2:21-22)
Secondly, to the best of my ability, I need to do my part to maintain the integrity of God’s Word in my life. This means that I must resist the pressure to compromise or dilute God’s standards defined in His Word for me. (Jude 3) Instead, we need to partner with the Holy Spirit to preserve and teach from the scriptures what God intended for us to hear and then do. (1 Timothy 1:11, 2 Timothy 1:14) All of this is challenging, because we live in unprecedented times in our country. Yet we must find a way to express God’s perspective to a lost world with respect, and to engage our fellow believers with love. (1 Peter 1:22) This approach makes sense to me because that’s how Christ approached me.
Lastly, I need to trust that God is executing His perfect plan for my life and in the world we live in. We need to live expectantly, awaiting Christ’s return and to be prepared for that day. (1 Thessalonians 1:7; 2 Timothy 1:12)
Much like my Mom suddenly appearing, we don’t know when Christ will return; (Matthew 24:36) but we do know this, that He will! And when He does, I want to be caught doing His will and not my own.