I’m still thinking about an old memory that came to mind a couple weeks ago during the women’s worship service at the county jail. I was there as a volunteer to play the piano, as usual, and participated in the whole worship experience with the inmates. One of the scriptures that we read was Acts 5:1-11 (NRSV):
But a man named Ananias, with the consent of his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property; with his wife’s knowledge, he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. “Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, were not the proceeds at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You did not lie to us but to God!” Now when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard of it. The young men came and wrapped up his body, then carried him out and buried him.
After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter said to her, “Tell me whether you and your husband sold the land for such and such a price.” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” Immediately she fell down at his feet and died. When the young men came in they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. And great fear seized the whole church and all who heard of these things.
God took cheating seriously back in those days! I know I’ve read this story in Acts before, but this is the first time that it triggered an old memory about when I cheated God. I was three or four years old. It was a Sunday afternoon and I remember my family went to a special church service in some other town – I don’t remember where or why. I just remember that I sat in the pew between my mom and my grandma. My mom gave me a dime to put in the offering. So did my grandma. I put one dime in the offering and one dime in my little pink plastic purse. When we got home and my mother was putting my purse away she found the dime and asked me about it. I confessed. She took the dime back and scolded me. I knew she was really disappointed in me. I had cheated God.
Now, sixty years later, I realize that I got off easy for cheating God. Look at what happened to Ananias and Sapphira!
I shared this memory during the testimony time in the jail worship service. What’s so amazing to me is the clear memory I still have of the incident. Obviously, I learned as a three-year-old that cheating God or being dishonest with God is something I shouldn’t do.
What does that mean for me today? I guess it’s a reminder of how important it is to be honest with God as well as with others. I’m still thinking about what that means… Especially why that memory came back so vividly now…
One of the benefits of aging – having so many more memories to think about. As of yesterday, I have 64 years of memories bouncing around in my head. Thanks be to God!