I am a bargain shopper.
Yesterday I was shopping at a local discount store (that shall remain nameless). As I walked through the store and perused the “sale” signs and “bargain” bins I was miffed. In my book 30% off does not constitute “clearance” and 20% off barely counts as a “sale”. I quickly abandoned my cart, aware I wouldn’t be making any purchases.
As I continued to walk around the store (in the hopes of a 50% off bin, I suppose) I was perplexed. Everyone else was shopping as if the store was giving things away. People eagerly pulling items off the shelf, filling up carts, walking briskly towards the next “deal”. I almost stopped one student to tell her a better place to find a deal on throw pillows (to furnish her first apartment I’m sure). I refrained.
As I left the store (empty handed) it hit me. They shopped so enthusiastically because they didn’t know there was a better deal elsewhere.
And then I realized that people spend more than they should in so-called discount stores for the same reason people spend less time on God – they are unaware of what a real bargain looks like.
Bear with me for a minute as I compare a relationship with God to a bargain. I mean, if we think about it, isn’t it?
Sure there is a price to be paid. We give our time, we give our attention, we give our love, we give our obedience, and we even give our very selves. This is no small price. But think of what we gain: peace amid the storm, hope in the future, love beyond measure, forgiveness when we fall, healing when we hurt, mercy when we deserve none, strength when we have none, the faithfulness of the Father, the inheritance of the Son, the indwelling of the Spirit.
Yes, there is a price we pay, but look how much more we receive! What we receive far outweighs (quantitatively and qualitatively) what we give. This, my friends, is the definition of a bargain.
Still not sold on the idea (pun intended)? Consider this: all these things above (peace, hope, love, forgiveness, healing, strength, faithfulness, inheritance, indwelling) are actually free! Someone else has paid the price. Christ has bought it all for you, for me.
There was a time in my life when I spent more time on appearances and less time on trying to be a better person, when I spent more effort on impressing people than on pleasing God, when I spent more time buying things than doing things for God. (Lest you think I’m boasting, some of “these” times were recent and I struggle weekly, if not daily, to keep each of these priorities in line.) But then I discovered the great bargain.
People frantically shop for things to make themselves happy, but there is only One Who can satisfy. People are willing to pay more and get less, but there is One Whose whole life was about giving, even unto death. People say nothing in life is free, but there is One Who offers the best bargain around. Dare we abandon our empty baskets early and leave the store empty handed?
Today may we realize the free gift that God offers us in every moment of every day – the gift of knowing, loving and serving Him. And may we eagerly (and gratefully) receive all he has to offer.
What a bargain.