"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God" - Ephesians 2:8
I got a coupon to my local movie theater for 50% off the cost of a movie ticket with popcorn too. The trouble is, I don't have much time to go to the movies. So I've been waiting for that rarest of combinations: a movie I want to see and the time to see it.
Finally, there it was, the obvious target for my coupon cutting zeal - a film being shown for only one night and I had the night off. Jackpot! But when I tried to use my coupon at the theater, I got some surprising news. The movie was being sponsored by a community group and therefore my coupon did not apply. Why? Because the movie was going to be free. Free of charge
And can you guess what my reaction was?
Disappointment. I kid you not, I actually had a pang of disappointment that I was not going to be able to use my coupon, like I was being cheated out of my deal somehow.
Never mind that the movie was free, as in FREE. My coupon-craving creativity was crushed and I was actually disappointed. For about 20 seconds, which is how long it took me to realize that I was insane.
Material plans can be like that. Sometimes the quest for financial freedom just imprisons us. By getting a free ticket, I was being robbed of my chance to be the smartest coupon cutter in the room. Now I would just be on the receiving end of something free, beautiful and inspired — which is the very effect that art is meant to have on us.
It really was a good movie, by the way. And somehow it was created entirely without my help. It reached the screen for me to see without my financial backing. At the theater, nobody asked to see my crumpled-up, tightly-held little coupon. That movie that night was a gift. It was as simple and as complicated as that.
Dear God thank you for the free gift of grace because I cannot get it for myself. Amen.
Small Group Discussion
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Lillian Daniel's new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don't Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.