|Image borrowed from http://www.goddessgab.com/|
Its importance was obvious as it commanded its own shelf – the top shelf of a little corner unit built on the backside of the kitchen cabinet facing the family room. Its size seemed to change with the seasons – the quart size during the growing season and a smaller pint size during the winter months. I suppose Mom didn’t want the quart size’s contents to look so meager during the leaner months of the year. It was the tithing jar and it held the Lord’s portion of the money earned by the hard work, sweat, and tears from our family’s small farm during my growing up years.
The life of a farmer had its ups and downs during the 1950’s and ‘60’s just as it does now. A good year was when the weather cooperated. A cold snap in late Spring could kill off tender crops that would have to be replanted. Too much rain could delay planting – not enough rain would reduce the harvest. It was a fickle life the farmer led, controlled by nature, hard work and prayers. It was always a gamble, much like a poker game -- the difference between a royal flush and two of a kind. The twelve-month calendars would stack up with dates and dollar amounts entered and labeled good years and bad years. But the tithing jar was a constant in our lives and there was always something in it.
The tithing jar was a visual aid for us children. It was a learning tool that my parents used to convey what mere words could not. The sale of produce was carefully counted on the kitchen table and exactly one-tenth went into the jar. When the cotton crop was tallied up at the end of the season, the jar held tens and twenties instead of ones, fives and loose change. Mom’s check from working in a department store was cashed and its share went into the jar. On Sunday mornings, the contents were removed from the jar, put in a white envelope and placed in the offering plate at church. Mother handled this money reverently because after all, it was the portion that belonged to God.
The image of the jar on the shelf has stayed with me all of my life. It is a gentle reminder that all we have is the Lord’s. He asks only for a small portion in return. A dollar earned, a dime in the jar – it was as simple as that. The tithing jar - I never saw it being filled begrudgingly - it was filled with gratitude. And for that lesson learned, I am grateful.