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Some As Grace; Some As Mercy

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Some As Grace; Some As Mercy

By

Jimmy Reed

Jimmy Reed (jimmycecilreedjr@gmail.com) is an Oxford, Mississippi resident, Ole Miss alumnus, Army veteran, former Mississippi Delta cotton farmer, and retired college teacher. His collection of short stories is available via southernstories.com

For my stepdaughter Jennifer and me, a stroll around town on Sunday mornings was a big event. Often she would spot coins, give them to me for safekeeping, and race ahead, pigtails swishing, searching the sidewalk.

Before heading for church, we always plopped down on padded benches in front of a café, I to enjoy coffee; she, a soda.

On one of those mornings I challenged her to a little game: “Jennifer, if you find enough coins to make a dollar before we sit on this bench next Sunday, I will double it.”

“Whoopee,” she shouted excitedly. “You are going to lose this game, Pappy.”

During our next Sunday stroll, realizing her findings were twenty-five cents short, she roamed far ahead, desperately scanning the sidewalks. Suddenly I saw her dash toward a parking space and pick up a coin. Jumping up and down and laughing, she raced toward me.

“Look, Pappy, I found a quarter. You lost the game!”

“Let me see it.”

Reaching into her jeans, she froze. “Oh, no! It fell through the hole in my pocket! I’m not playing this stupid game anymore.”

Sitting beside the despondent little girl in church, an idea popped into my head when the minister quoted an old saying: “Grace and mercy are opposite sides of the same coin. Grace is getting what you don’t deserve; mercy is not getting what you do deserve.”

Losing the quarter and thus losing the game broke the little girl’s heart. She didn’t deserve to lose the coin; she deserved to win the game. I was determined to make it happen.

Before dawn the next Sunday, I went to the café, raised the pads on the benches, hid coins totaling two dollars, and returned home.

On our pre-church walk, when we stopped to enjoy the usual refreshments, I said, “You know, a lot of folks stop here to rest. I’ll bet coins drop out of their pockets sometimes, and they don’t even know it.”

Perking up, she set her soda aside and said, “Quick, Pappy — get up!”

Lifting the pad, she found the coins I’d hidden. Then she raised the pad on the other bench. “Look how much I found, Pappy!”

“Wow, you hit the jackpot — two whole dollars! Too bad you didn’t find just one more quarter under these pads. Counting the seventy-five cents you had already found, you’d have three dollars.”

“Well, if you would keep your promise to double what I find, I’d have six dollars, provided I can use the quarter the tooth fairy left under my pillow.”

Watching her drop the coins in her piggy bank after church, I thought … a man with six million dollars could never be six million times happier than six dollars has made this child.

Parents who spend too much time searching the sidewalks of monetary wealth and material gain often end up bereft of those far more valuable “coins” the Lord is always spreading before His children: Some as grace; some as mercy.  


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