Monday, August 29, 2016

Eternal store credit

God is the God of restoration. Even store credit restoration.
I had nearly forgotten about the misplaced store credit receipt issued to me by my favorite local boutique shop. Months ago I returned a piece of jewelry without a receipt. As is the store's policy, store credit was offered. The return transaction was recorded on a thin paper receipt which the recipient (me) was instructed to keep in a safe place until presented for use on a future purchase. I gladly accepted my store credit. I love store credit. To me store credit is a promise of a pre-paid shopping trip.
The only trouble with store credit is when you lose the one single recorded documentation of said credit. That is precisely what happened to my flimsy piece of proof of store credit. Upon receiving the receipt for $26.95 of credit I folded it and placed it in my wallet. For at least a month the paper stayed securely between my library card and my license. On a number of occasions I considered moving the receipt to a more secure location, such as my desk drawer, but I never followed through. I kept the receipt laying in my wallet, a dangerous place for little, thin crinkled papers.
I'll never know what became of that three inch by eight inch piece of invoice roll paper because by the time I decided to transfer its location, it was gone. Somewhere along the way my receipt must have slipped out of my wallet. In the shuffle of removing cards and cash the paper must have fallen to the ground without my noticing. As a result of my carelessness, I lost all proof and all right to my $26.95 prepaid shopping spree.
After much frustration and fruitless searching I put the whole store credit saga out of my mind. It was a loss but, thankfully, not a gigantic one. I determined to learn a lesson for future store credits and put all important receipts in a designated desk drawer.
It wasn't until I stood at the cash register of that same store six months later that I remembered the long lost piece of paper. As I placed my splurge of a wristlet on the counter my eyes met that of the same cashier who had issued me the store credit and the warning about the importance of the receipt indicating its value. In an instant the number $26.95 flashed through my mind.
The cashier must have remembered too because after some clicking around on her computer screen and a delayed ringing of my order she leaned forward across the counter and whispered a number. "$16.50" was all she said. The price of my purchase less $26.95.
I didn't have the right receipt to give proof of my store credit and I didn't ask to be reinstated that which I didn't deserve. The loss had been of my own making. The store didn't owe me $26.95 but that sweet woman remembered me, my loss and took action to provide me gracious restoration.
By my own will I wasn't able to look up the record of my returned purchase. Only the cashier could do that job. I couldn't compel the cashier to act on my behalf out of compassion or pity. It wasn't a convincing speech, a sob story or threatened legal action that changed the course of my store credit fate. It was forgiveness, kindness and grace of the woman behind the counter.

Isn't that just precisely the way it is with God? I didn't compel God to save me. When I was lost in my sin, separated from Him by the loss of my innocence and rebellious ways, I couldn't cry hard enough or yell loud enough to make God hear me and rescue me. It was by grace that He saved me.
I didn't and still don't, deserve God's mercy. I don't deserve the restoration of my soul. I don't deserve to be reinstated into God's family fold. And yet He looks on me with compassion and kindness. God knows just how lost I have been - more lost than my store credit receipt - and He has come to find me. Before I even knew I needed rescued and restored, before I knew I needed a search team or a Savior, God had His mission to find me and reinstate me planned and plotted out.

It is by grace I have been saved. By grace and unmerited mercy that God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem me. He came to bring me back to a right relationship with my Heavenly Father. Forgiveness made possible by the shedding of Christ's blood on the cross removed the stain of my sin and restored my heart to be a dwelling place of the Holy Spirit.
By the actions I sowed in sin and rebellion I lost something more valuable than any amount that can ever be printed on a store credit. I lost my union with God, a deficit I could never overcome by my own will and work. I needed Jesus.
Everyday, every hour, every minute I need Jesus because it is only through His gracious work of restoration on the cross that I am made whole, complete and credited as eternally holy.

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