Saturday I had a shopping list with a couple of nice electronic coupons to the tune of $10 off total. $5 of it had to be redeemed on Saturday. I was racing to avoid a thunderstorm and my shoulder and neck were hurting, so I rushed through my list. The line was slow so that when I got to check out, I was in a hurry to just get it done and get home. I was in the parking lot unloading my bags when I remembered the coupons. I forgot to log in and redeem them and now it was too late.

In order to redeem something you have to cash it in. It wasn’t the cashier’s fault or the people in line. I failed to cash in the gift I had been given. I lost out on a good deal because I got in a hurry and failed to follow through.

As Christians, we are redeemed by Christ. He followed through. He paid the full price so that we could have salvation for free. We merely have to receive the gift that He provided. We are redeemed if we will only take a moment to mindfully accept the gift and cash it in. It’s worth far more than $10 off in coupons. It is the gift of eternal life and a more abundant life while here on earth.

I am thankful I have been redeemed, especially knowing that I did nothing to deserve it. Christ did all the work, and I receive the benefits. It’s good sometimes to take a moment from the rush of this world to ponder the gift and be thankful for the power of redemption.

Without Conflict There is No Story

At the Southern Christian Writer’s Conference this weekend, I attended a seminar by Melanie Dickerson on “How to Create Conflict in Fiction.” She was discussing how without conflict there is no story worth reading. We don’t read books or watch movies where only good things happen and everyone is happy. It’s like the movie Pleasantville or Snow Globe; the ideal life gets boring very quickly. The same can be said spiritually.

We complain to God when we encounter troubles and trials or even mere inconveniences, but often those inconveniences lead to some of the most satisfying spiritual growth moments of our journey. Just like in novels, we need conflict in order to grow. In a Hailey Dean movie just last night, the main character, a therapist, is talking about her own issue with a colleague. The colleague suggests she tell a story about her fiancé who was murdered years previously, something she avoids at all costs. Hailey replies that she is uncomfortable with that. Her colleague replied basically that those are the things that will give us the most growth.

In order to grow, we have to step out of our comfort zones and confront something that we are uncomfortable with, such as something God has told us to do or a sin we are not willing to deal with or even a relationship issue. When we follow God’s leading into the uncomfortable, God does His greatest work in us and through us because we are relying on Him instead of ourselves. Like Peter, step out of the boat and onto the water, even in the midst of a rolling sea, and you will find something far better than you ever imagined. Without conflict, there is no story, but with it life can be a great adventure better than any book.