There is a simple story told that contains its truth in its very naturalness and simplicity. It reveals a bit of the real life ever going on all around us unnoticed. A minister in a certain small town in an eastern state received from the home mission board of his church a letter asking for a special offering for a needy field in the West. With the letter was literature setting forth the need. The call appealed to him and with good heart he prepared a special sermon, calling the attention of his people to the great need.
Sabbath morning came and he preached the sermon. But somehow it did not just seem to hook in. That banker down there on the left looked listless, and yawned a couple of times behind his hand. And the merchant over on the right, who could give freely, examined his watch secretly more than once. And so it was with a little tinge of discouragement insistently creeping into his spirit that he finished, and sat down. And he remained with head bowed in prayer that the results might prove better than seemed likely, while the church officers passed down the aisles with the collection plates.
Meanwhile something unseen by human eye was going on in the very last pew. Back there, sitting alone, was a little girl of a poor family. She had met with a misfortune which left her crippled. And her whole life seemed so dark and hopeless. But some kind friends in the church, pitying her condition, had made up a small fund and bought her a pair of crutches. And these had seemed to transform her completely. She went about her rounds always as cheery and bright as a bit of sunshine.
She had listened to the sermon, and her heart had been strangely warmed by the preacher's story of need. And as he was finishing she was thinking, |How I wish I might give something. But I haven't anything to give, not even a copper left.| And a very soft voice within seemed to say very softly, but very distinctly, |There are your crutches.| |Oh,| she gasped to herself as though it took away her very breath, |my crutches? I couldn't give my crutches; they're my life.| And that strangely clear voice went on, so quietly, |Yes -- you could -- and then some one would know of Jesus -- if you did -- and that would mean so much to them -- He's meant so much to you -- give your crutches.| And her breath seemed to fail her at the thought. And so the little woman had her fight all unseen and unknown by those in the church. And by and by the victory came. And she sat with a beautiful light in her tearful eyes, and a smile coming to her lips, waiting for the plate to get to her pew.
And the man with the plate came down the aisle to the end. It seemed hardly worth while reaching it into the last pew. Just little Maggie sitting there alone, with her one foot dangling above the floor. But with fine courtesy he stopped and passed the plate in. And Maggie in her childlike simplicity lifted her crutches, and tried rather awkwardly to put them on the collection plate. Quick as a flash the man caught her thought, and with a queer lump in his throat reached out and steadied her strange gift on the plate.
And then he turned back and walked slowly up the aisle toward the pulpit, carrying the plate in one hand and steadying the crutches on it with the other. And people commenced to look. And eyes quickly dimmed. Everybody knew the crutches. Maggie -- giving her crutches! And the banker over here blew his nose suddenly and reached for his pencil, and the merchant reached out to stop the man returning up his aisle.
As the pastor stood with his eyesight not very clear to receive the morning's offering, he said, |Surely our little crippled friend is giving us a wonderful example.| Then the plates were called back toward the pews. And somebody paid fifty dollars for the crutches, and sent them back to that end pew. When the offering was counted up it contained several hundred dollars. And the little girl, crippled in body but not in any other way, hobbled out of church the happiest little woman in the world.
She had recognized and obeyed the inner voice. That was the simple explanation of her giving. And her gift, small in itself, touched with sacrifice, became worth several hundred dollars in its earning power. And the original investment was returned for its usual service. And her gift has been increasing in its earning power as its recital has reached other hearts, and the end is not yet. I do not know just where Maggie is now. But I do know that she will be a greatly surprised woman some day when she finds out what God has done with her sacrifice-hallowed gift. She recognized and obeyed the inner Voice. That is the one law of giving, as of all living.