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Gift Card

Recently, my family and I spent the afternoon at an outlet mall. I would say that we shopped, but we really didn’t buy that much. For the most part, I wandered in and out of stores mindlessly dragging my fingers across the tops of hangers and people watching while Todd and the kids tried on goofy sunglasses, goosed each other, and played with their ipods.

For the first part of our outing, my daughter Hope at least made a show of shopping with me, pretending to be interested in what I was trying on and pointing out sales offering 50% off or more, but she gave up within seconds of entering the Polo Ralph Lauren store. The white walls and dark wooden columns made us feel a little underdressed in our T-shirts and gym shorts, and the salespeople looked ready to do business on Wall Street.

Frowning, Hope lifted a price tag on the first display we came to and quickly let it fall. “Um, Mom,” she whispered, “I think this is the kind of place you only shop in if you have a gift card from Nana.”

I laughed. She was right. Anxious to be on our way, we made a quick once-through and moved on to the next store. No sense wasting time wishing for things you can’t have, right?

I wonder sometimes if that is the way people who don’t know Jesus feel when they realize they can’t afford the good things in life for themselves, things such as joy, peace, and healthy relationships.  Do they think they can’t have them simply because they can’t afford them?  Is that why they settle for the off-brand junk the world is peddling?

Here is the truth. None of us can afford those things, but Jesus can. Not only CAN Jesus afford those things, He has already purchased them with His own blood and offers them to anyone willing to love Him with their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In a sense, each one of us has a gift card waiting for us with our name on it, not just for eternal life in Heaven, but for a very real relationship with Jesus that stands up under the greatest pressure, heals the deepest hurts, comforts in the midst of unbelievable hardship, and makes the otherwise impossible possible.

All we have to do is trade in the old self for a brand new one by confessing sin and receiving God’s forgiveness. Exchange junk for the good stuff? Now that’s a bargain anyone can afford.

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