Tuesday, September 1, 2009

57 cents

Saturday morning I woke up with a song in my head. This isn't too uncommon; I like music, and it's been a pretty big part of my life since my childhood. This was a bit different though. The song stuck in my head was from music I listened to in my childhood, and I'm positive I haven't heard it for at least 20 years. My belief structure has changed since then, and christian music isn't exactly what I listen to any more. The song, by Don Fransisco is called "Too small a price", and it's about the crucifixion, as told by the guy on the cross to the right. It starts with him waking up in the morning, being dragged out of his cell, and works its way through all the significant events in the day. Ultimately he realized that what he went through on this horrible, brutal day was "too small a price" to be allowed the opportunity to die beside the son of God.

So, this song has been stuck in my head for three days now, and I'm singing it under my breath wherever I go. When people are around, I sing more quietly, belt it out in the car, etc. I'm sure you know what I mean. I've been trying all sorts of things to rid myself of it, and nothing has worked.

Late Monday evening I walked to the local Safeway to pick up a few things. And as you guessed, I'm singing this song. I'm doing it quietly because I'm a bit self conscious of what the people around me are thinking as they hear snippets like "...arms close to the beams as they nailed my feet and hands..." I'm sure they're mentally backing away from the nutcase...

I remember making eye contact with an older woman a few times while I wandered the isles, and eventually, she ended up getting into line behind me at checkout. I made small talk with the guy at the register, threw down a twenty, got a couple bucks back, and 57 cents rolled out of the coin dispenser.

The guy had scanned the woman's things: top raman, hot dogs, buns, and a loaf of bread. She was counting change on the counter, and the clerk told her she was 57 cents short. She started to say something like "well, put the bread back", when I interrupted, saying I just happen to have 57 cents. "Here ya go".

She looked at me, and I could tell her eyes were tearing up and said "I heard you singing that Don Fransisco song, and knew you would help me."

So, let me get this straight. She knew she didn't have enough money, got in line behind me because she knew this 30 year old song I was singing, and because I was singing it that I would help her, and then I got the same amount of change back that she needed.

Coincidence is one thing, but that was just freakishly bizarre.

At least the song isn't stuck in my head any more...

[months later]
I recently became aware of a "57 cents" story that happened supposedly in 1886. In this story, a dying child offered 57 cents to help build a church. The pastor had the 57 cents converted to pennies, and sold these to the parishioners for $250. This became the seed money for a new church.

I still don't like coincidence.


  1. Reminds me of song from the Imperials back in the 70's. Did you ever hear God, speaking to you, Saying, "I've got a job to do, and I'll sure be needing you, if it ever gets done."
    John, in the recesses of your spirit is a niched where God lives and He is ready to break out and help you become the man of God, that I always believed you could become. This is a start. Love you Bro.

  2. Wow John. Those kind of freakish circumstances is the way I kind of expect God to move. I do agree with PG's analysis. God lives in you and he is ready to break out. I don't mean in some kind of strange, fanatical way, but in a 57 cents kind of way that reaches out to you and others.

    I am sure you have watched my journey. I was a pentecostal girl, who grew up into a charismatic woman, who gradually found herself involved in a Bible based cult. After leaving the cult I abandoned all belief in anything while I sorted through all my piles of belief systems to figure out what to keep and what to toss.

    All this to say, that the God I have rediscovered is exactly the kind that would put an old song in my head to attract someone who would need exactly 57 cents.

    It's not about big ideas and grand things - it's about loving God and loving people and being open to singing songs and sharing change, or whatever the day holds for us. At least for me it is. Some of my more "religious" friends are still frusterated with me and they are waiting for the old me to come back.

    But I will take the simplicity of the new relationship with God and the simplier belief system I have now over anything I had then.

    Anyway, cool story - thanks for sharing - made my night.

    Love you

  3. I do not believe that this was a coincidence or a freakish circumstance. God works in creative ways sometimes. And it appears he put that song right into your head so that a needy woman would not only be given the exact change to afford food but would also be reminded of that particular song and how God still loves her greatly. Very powerful and moving.

    No human can live without love. And love comes from God. A real love that is unconditional that no human being is capable of offering unless they love God and have welcomed him into their hearts, minds and soul. You cannot love God without loving others. For those who say they love God yet do not love others, they are truly living a lie.

    John, you are a good example of what many Christians avoid to do, "talk" about doing or strive to accomplish. And it must make you feel a little more fulfilled in just simply being open and available in helping others. God is using you, and he's trying to remind you, as well, of his enormous unconditional love he has for you. A true and pure love that defies human understanding.

    Thanks for sharing.

    God's light and peace be with you,

    Lisa Z