Now all glory to God, who is able, through His mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Ephesians 3:20
I guess it was the bonus thing. Take a country boy from the far-out suburbs of North Florida and a trip anywhere was a treat. When times were lean, Daddy and Mama would pay our electric bill downtown at the electric company. It wasn’t unusual for us to wait to the last day or so and we would have to take it down to the drop box. The office was located downtown on the St. John’s River and we would make an adventure out of the trip. We would park and make the payment and then play along the Riverwalk. It is one of those great memories.
So, anytime Mama or Daddy said, “Let go” we were all in. That was especially true when Mama would head to the grocery store. Daddy was paid on every other Friday. On payday when he got home from work, they would deposit his check and go buy groceries. While we started with eight kids, by the time I was eight or so several had gotten married but that still made for a lot of groceries to buy. Mama would usually shop at Food Fair. For one thing they had good prices but there was a bonus. Food Fair gave out S&H Green Stamps.
It was kinda like the card that some stores today use to offer discounts on food and gas but different. When you got to the checkout, the person would hand ring all the groceries (no scanners in those days!) and total everything up. Then she had this special little machine and based on what Mama spent that week, she would mash the appropriate buttons and this little machine would spit out all these little “green stamps.” So, along with your receipt you left the store with a handful of stamps.
At the store, near the front, you would find these little stamp collecting books. Each page would hold, oh let’s say, twenty stamps. So, we (Mama would often let us lick the stamps and stick them in the book) would put the stamps in the book and then put the books in a safe place like the china cabinet. Week after week, and especially on payday we would stick and save, stick and save. Finally, after a while, we would have several books of stamps and it was redemption time.
Along with the little books for the stamps, there were catalogs filled with stuff that you could redeem with the stamps. There were all kinds of small appliances, toasters, and the like, as well as other things for the house. And, if I remember right, there were even a few toys in there also. When redemption time came we would look and shop and see what we could buy with our S&H Green Stamps. Rarely, but sometimes, Mama would even let us have the stamps and we could go shopping for something we wanted. It was like a mini-Christmas in April, or August or whenever.
It was a pretty good marketing ploy if you think about it. The fact that they gave away “green stamps” enticed us to shop there. It really was a bonus and it really worked. It is always special when you get more than you expect—and that is something that I really like about God. Although I went to church all my life, I was twenty-one when I finally got it in my head that I didn’t have to please God to go to heaven. I finally understood that you go to heaven not based on what you do but on what Jesus did when He died on a Roman cross and rose again. Trust and believe in Him and, well, it is redemption day. You get your ticket punched for heaven but there is more. There is a bonus.
You see, not only does God make you eligible for heaven by forgiving everything you’ve ever done wrong but there is something else. There are S&H Green Stamps—an unexpected bonus. I mean, I’m glad for heaven but to know that my Father up in heaven cares for me and walks with me every day—now that’s a bonus. When times are hard, He is there. When I need a friend, He is there. When I mess up, He is there…ready to love and forgive. He.Is.Always.There. Paul, the guy who penned a bunch of the New Testament said it this way, “Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.” Yup…well said Paul.
You know, sometimes the future can be pretty scary. A lot of us…most of us…discovered that in 2020. If there was anything that was certain it was that the future was uncertain. It was so assuring to know that what I didn’t know…He did. That when I went where I hadn’t gone before…His footprints were already in the sand. And, what I couldn’t handle…He could and He did. Throughout this past year, each time I wrote, I’ve tried to close my story with the words, “He’s got this.” And do you know what? He really does and that my friend…is a bonus. Bro. Dewayne