Clink! Clink! The coins jingled as eight-year-old Angela dropped them into her strawberry-colored tin box. “Three-eighty, three-ninety, four dollars, four dollars and ten cents,” she counted softly to herself, pinching the last dime between her thumb and finger and dropping it thoughtfully into the container. “Just one more week,” she added, replacing the lid of the tin. “With next week’s allowance, I’ll have enough.”
She glanced wistfully at the white dresser top—clean, dusted, and waiting. Since her neighbor Jeff had shown her his goldfish, she couldn’t wait to have her own. She needed just two more dollars—the amount of her allowance—for a glass bowl, a nice fat fish, and a supply of food.
Three times she’d visited the pet store on Market Avenue, pedaling her bicycle home faster each time out of sheer excitement. Mr. Henry, the shop owner, now knew her by name. “Hello, Angela,” he had called from behind the puppy cages the last time she went in. “We have a new shipment of fish this morning. Take a look.”
All week, Angela faithfully sped through her chores. The bathroom sink had never gleamed so brightly. Doc, the family’s lively puppy, awoke each day to a clean dish with a small heap of dog food and fresh water. Angela’s daisy-spotted comforter was pulled neatly into place without a wrinkle every morning. The whole family marveled at how quickly and well she cleared the table and loaded the dishwasher. By the end of the week, there was no question that Angela deserved her two dollars.
Clutching the crinkled bills in one hand, she raced to her room, grabbed the red tin from her closet shelf, and dumped the money into a mound in the middle of her bed. She added the allowance money to the pile and counted quickly. Six dollars and ten cents—barely enough, but enough! She could go straight to the pet store!
“Oh-oh! Wait a minute,” Angela whispered, picking up the last two dollars. She flung herself backward onto the soft yellow covers, moaning, “I forgot about tithing!”
She sat up again and studied the empty dresser top. Maybe I should use my tithing money and get the fish, anyway, she thought. I could pay it back next week.
The idea appealed to her. As she dropped the money into the empty tin and started to get up, she noticed a small gray envelope lying unsealed on the nightstand. She’d planned to add this week’s tithing to the envelope and turn it in on Sunday. With the tithing envelope in one hand and the bright tin box in the other, she pondered her choices. Her ponytail swayed back and forth as she studied first one, then the other. Finally she whispered, “Tithing shouldn’t wait.”
With a tug, Angela opened the money tin again, picked out two dimes, and tucked them into the envelope. Sighing with both relief and disappointment, she finished filling out the tithing slip, slid it under the money in the envelope, licked the flap, and sealed it.
On Sunday, she gave the gray envelope to her bishop.
Although she was still sad on Monday morning, her chores seemed easier somehow and took less time than usual. The week passed swiftly. When she received her allowance, there was no need to count the money in the tin box after taking out her tithing. There was more than enough.
Saturday morning, Angela stood outside the door of the pet shop at 9:55 A.M. while her mother waited in the car. When Mr. Henry turned the “closed” sign around and peered out the window, he waved at her and hurried to the front door. She wriggled with excitement as she heard his keys jingling.
“Well, Angela,” he greeted her, “I thought you’d be here last week.”
Angela smiled. “I had to wait.”
“You’ll be happy that you did,” Mr. Henry said. “We’re running a special on goldfish this week. Two for the price of one.”
With a jubilant smile, Angela followed him into the store.
Riding home, Angela clutched her glass bowl, the plastic bag holding two fish, and the box of fish food. She still had almost two dollars in her pocket. “You know what, Mom?” she said. “Bowls can wait and fish can wait, but tithing should never wait.”