Ronnie Lichens and I attended fifth grade together at Wadsworth Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia. He played baseball for the dreaded White Sox while I belonged to the Red Sox team. Despite our on-field differences, we became good friends.
Ronnie lived on Ferris Circle—a slightly more upscale neighborhood than my own. When I discovered that several cute girls in our class lived down the street, Ronnie and I became the best of friends! Debbie Waddle, Melissa McFarland, and Leslie Elliott more than made up for any of Ronnie’s shortcomings.
During my initial visit to the Lichens’ split-level home, I discovered that Ronnie collected coins. I had never given the subject a single thought. Pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters served as a means to an end—currency to buy Slurpies, baseball cards, and bubble gum.
Ronnie showed me his collection carefully arranged in blue folders with precut slots for the coins. He talked about dates, engravings, mint stamps, double casts, wheatie pennies, and Indian head nickels. Then he showed me reference books that cataloged the value of the different coins. By the end of the conversation, the numismatic bug had bitten me.
I began my own collection, starting small but slowly building. I bought blue Whitman trifold folders with each slot marked for the appropriate coin. Ordinary change became filled with extraordinary possibilities.
After sorting through all the coins at our houses, Ronnie and I visited local grocery stores, exchanging dollar bills for rolled pennies. We examined each penny in turn, hoping to find coins to fill the gaps in our growing collections. Then we counted the remaining coins back into ten piles of ten before rewrapping them in one hundred count rolls. We biked back to the store to start the process all over again.
Like most boyhood enthusiasms, my new hobby lasted about a year before other pursuits garnered my attention (see my note above about Debbie Waddle, Melissa McFarland, and Leslie Elliott). The half-finished coin collections got shoved into the back of drawers and closets.
Today I still have a handful of the older coins preserved in plastic tubes stored in a safe deposit box. I have no clue about their monetary worth. Based on other investments over the past few years, I’m guessing that the nickels are worth about five cents and the pennies aren’t worth a dime.
The memories, on the other hand, remain invaluable. The notion that something possessed worth beyond its face value greatly appealed to me. Even as a child, I intuitively sensed this discovery held some greater, universal truth.
Only later would my theological understanding of God mature to a point that I understood this important lesson. We view others through human eyes, and oftentimes we sinfully dismiss people as empty of worth and value. However, God views each of us through the eyes of love. The Lord deems us worth the greatest price of all: His Son.
Others may judge us by our looks, intelligence, talents, or assets. The world assigns a price tag to our value. In our Heavenly Father’s eyes, however, we are a rare and matchless find.
You and I are priceless.