Pastor Bobby and I just finished our series at Trinity CRC focusing especially on grace. Somewhere along the way I had hoped to share a story Pastor Bert Slofstra told years ago at Gateway Community CRC in Abbotsford BC. Sadly, it didn’t fit anywhere, so I’m sharing it here…
A man was shopping in a superstore warehouse. He didn’t need much – just coffee and a loaf of bread – which is all he had in his hands when he got to the checkout counter. Standing in line, he noticed the woman behind him with a cart filled to overflowing: all kinds of groceries and clothes, even a new TV. He breathed a huge sigh of relief at being in line ahead of her!
To his surprise, when it was his turn to pay, the cashier invited him to draw a slip of paper out of a jar he hadn’t noticed when he first got in line. “It’s a store promotion,” the clerk told him. “Draw the winning slip and everything you’ve brought to the checkout is free.”
So he reached in and – wouldn’t you know it? – he pulled out the winning slip! Wow! Except, as he immediately realized, all he had was coffee and bread. What a shame. But in the same moment it took for that to register, he remembered the lady with the mountain of stuff behind him. And with no noticeable hesitation whatsoever he turned to her and announced: “Well, what do you know, honey? We won! Look!” he shouted as he waved the winning slip at her, “we don’t have to pay for any of this stuff!”
As she stared at him with a shocked look, he winked at her, which is when his suggestion sank in. And as natural as could be, she stepped up beside him, put her arm in his, smiled, and said, “Oh sweetheart, I can’t believe it. We really won! This is awesome.” A little later, in the parking lot, the lady consummated their temporary “marriage” with a hug, and then each went their own way. But what a great story this lady now had to tell her family and friends!
Now you may argue that what they did was pretty sneaky, that it wasn’t really right; you might even call it a clear case of fraud. He shouldn’t have lied and she shouldn’t have pretended. Then again, as you know if you’re familiar with Jesus’ story of the unfaithful steward, even a story with some sneaky characters in it can make a good point, can’t it?
Like the woman in the story, we too have been blessed with a surprise – much more so even than her. For while her debt might have been high, we can assume she could pay it. We cannot, however, even begin to pay our debt to our holy God – our debt created by our sin. But we’ve been given a wonderful gift: not at a checkout stand, but at the judgment seat of God. And not just of goods and groceries, but of grace and eternal life.