This Explains a LOT… (a PINK Tuesday post)

Walking through a favorite store last week, this sign caught my eye.

Sharing my name with a line of filter products hasn’t really affected me much, but there are times – as on this particular day – when my life parallels the life of my inanimate siblings on the shelf.

Temporary Price Cut. 15% Off. Brita.

I had to giggle as I stopped to capture this photo and I walked away thinking that this explains a LOT! There are certainly days when I am 15% off… Off-kilter. Off-target. Off-my-rocker. 

I even wondered what I might have 15% less of? Energy? Focus? Enthusiasm? Patience? (Stop me, please – I could go on & on!)

For the bargain price of 15% off, you could possess Brita – an indicator that demand must be lower than supply right now. Isn’t that why products receive temporary price cuts – to generate demand for the stockpiles of product lining warehouse shelves?

If so, I have to ask – then what? What happens, once the sale has ended, and everyone wants a piece of me? I suspect you’ve had days like this, where it seems everyone is after you for something. On these days, by the time we collapse into bed for the night, we feel like there must’ve been a sale going on that we weren’t notified about. We feel as if we gave ourselves away to the hungry consumers in our lives. We wonder if we might have been taken advantage of, since we know that we’re worth the full price on our sticker (right?).

There’s an innate, defensive reaction to giving our lives away that flows from our personal value perception (like my personal response to this 15% Off sign). I have to admit that my initial reaction to the Brita sign was – Are you serious?! You (not sure who I was talking to) couldn’t even afford me! You can’t put a price tag on Brita! Go ahead and TRY!

Now that I’ve settled down a bit, I realize that it’s the world that puts a price tag on what we have to contribute. It’s the culture around us that dictates value based on our gifts and talents, making us feel as if we must hold out for those who will pay full-price for our abilities and resist any urge to give ourselves away for less. But in God’s economy, to withhold our full value because others can’t ‘afford’ our sticker price is to thwart the work of the Spirit, making my life something that it is not…

Mine.

When I worked for the YMCA years ago, I was very much aware of the organization’s policy to offer its services on a sliding fee scale. The reason for this is simple: they believe that they have a product too valuable to withhold from anyone who needs it, regardless of their ability to pay.

God teaches us this same concept, reminding us not to withhold any good thing from others if it is in our power to provide it for them.

“…get out there and walk – better yet, run! – on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline – not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” Ephesians 4:1-3 (The Message)

Pour yourself out for the Kingdom!

I picture our Savior on the cross, with a price tag attached that has been edited to read:

His Life for Yours – 15% Off25% Off75% OffHis Gift to You.

This is no temporary price reduction – this is grace.

Jesus’ gift of salvation is not free, but paid for.

This explains a LOT.

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My Shiny Gold Card

Roasted coffee beans, the world's primary sour...

Image via Wikipedia

It came in the mail this week – my shiny Starbucks Gold Card.

Imprinted with my name, this card is more than a high class gift card. It allows me to get my favorite iced soy latte without paying 50 cents for the soy milk. It allows me to get a free refill when I just want straight, black coffee and can stick around to drink it. I can set it to auto-reload any time the balance drops below $10. And every 15th drink is free.

When I go to Starbucks.com I can see the beverages I’ve purchased represented by stars, being poured into my “cup” onscreen as I watch.

My friend Barbara got hers a couple of months ago. My friend Cyndie has had one forever, I think. I’m in good company as I order my beverage this morning, 100 miles from home, and I know that this card will connect me with another cup just like the one I’m holding now when I land thousands of miles away at the end of this day.

Predictable.

Consistent.

Familiar.

That’s the way I like my coffee.

And if I’m honest, that’s the way I like my life to pour out, too. No surprises. No variables. I want my non-fat chai to taste the same every time, and I want my day to go just as I’ve planned it, from sun-up to sun-down.

The organist at my church gave me a plaque for Christmas one year that says:

We Plan, God Laughs.

Even as I sit here drinking my controllable cup of java, I cling to the illusion of a life that can somehow be controlled by my own efforts.

After all, these are MY PLANS. MY AGENDA. MY ITINERARY. Right?

As a card-carrying Starbucks groupie, I am sold on what they’re selling.

But as a redeemed child of the Most High God I am still trying my hardest to change the menu. To make substitutions. To have things my way rather than to trust the Way of the One who called me. My tired human nature wants a road without speed bumps, a journey without detours, and membership in a club that requires little human interaction but comes with a sweet, personalized card.

All the privileges of membership.

No responsibility to anyone else but me.

“Do you love Me, Brita?”

Of course I love You!

“Then feed My sheep.”

Oh. Okay. Right after I order, God.

“Brita – do you love Me?”

Absolutely, God!

“Feed My sheep.”

I can do that. Do you think they want syrup or an extra shot in theirs?

“My child, my daughter, my little girl… Do you love Me?”

Yes, I DO, Father.

“Then it’s time. It’s time that you feed My sheep.”

  • Food, not coffee.
  • Love, not membership.
  • Life, not religion.
  • Truth, not agendas.

I put the card back in my wallet.

I throw the empty cup away.

By the power of the Spirit, I am answering the call.    

(Will you?)