My scissors were ready.
I’d held them in my hand as I scanned the Sunday paper. There were so many great coupons and I'd eagerly trimmed each one that I thought I could use. I’d made a note of the special sales at my grocery store. I was sure I'd save a bundle on our groceries this week!
Our budget's been tighter since Ed had to go on disability and I knew we had to save money wherever we could. I hadn't been much of a "coupon queen" before, but I'd wanted that grocery store trip to be different. I'd vowed to use the coupons and ads in the paper to get the best bargains for our money. Ed said he was proud of me for finding ways to stretch our budget.
After I wrote my list, I recopied it and put it in the order that the groceries would be found at our local store. I didn't want to miss anything we needed. I took my little pile of coupons and wrote a big check mark by each item that I had a coupon for. Then I wrote smaller check marks near the items that were on sale. I was ready.
In the store, I went down the aisles methodically. I bought everything on the list and resisted the temptation to pick up that cheesecake that was calling my name. After I went into the freezer case and selected our final choices, I breathed a sigh of relief. I'd followed my plans and gotten everything we needed. Since I was done making my choices, I crumpled up the shopping list and threw it a nearby trashcan. I placed my groceries on the conveyor belt and absentmindedly watched as the clerk scanned and bagged my purchases. I paid, wished the clerk a great day and left.
I was halfway home when I realized I'd forgotten to use the coupons.
I called myself every name in the book and angrily muttered all the way home. When Ed asked how my coupon mission had gone, I told him what had happened. He looked at me incredulously: "All that work and planning... and you didn't use them?" I shook my head. What could I say? He was right.
I didn't forget anything from that trip to the grocery store and I had enough money to pay for the groceries without the coupons. But the money I could have saved would have eventually added up and alleviated some of the pressures of our tighter budget. I had those coupons ready to use that day. But when I saw the end of my trip in sight, I relaxed my vigilant attention and forgot to use my coupons.
Lately, my life has seemed a lot like that trip to the grocery store. New challenges have led me to seek resources that will help me through them. So, I read my Bible, pray, listen to Christian music, go to church, and set aside time to talk with the Lord. In my life's challenges, I am very aware of God's presence, guidance and care. I know I can't do my best without His help. But sometimes when it's seemed that the solution is near, I let my guard down and "coast" on my own resources to the end. When I do this, it's like clipping those coupons and not using them.
The time I spend preparing for spiritual challenges can result in some "spiritual coupons." When I am tempted, I can use the spiritual coupon of Prayer to resist its lure. When I am angry, wisdom gained from the spiritual coupon of Reading the Word can help me make peace with my feelings. When I am tense, the spiritual coupon of Christian Music can help calm my soul. When I have questions about life, the spiritual coupon of Church Attendance will help me find the Christian teaching and fellowship that I need. When I need to know the next step forward in following God’s Will, I can use the spiritual coupon of Quiet Time with the Lord.
The next time I go to the grocery store, I'm holding on to my coupons for dear life; until they disappear into the cashier's scanner. And the next time life gives me a challenge, I pray I'll remember to hold on to my spiritual coupons, too.
1 Corinthians 1:8:” He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (NIV)
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