Love Coupons From the Lord
- Shawn McEvoy Editor, Christianity.com
- 2005 5 Aug
Rummaging through our junk drawer this week, I came across a gift from my wife that has brought me nothing but trouble.
Hold it right there. You keep presents from your wife in the junk drawer? Is that supposed to make me keep reading whatever it is you have to say? I’m happy to explain. Everything else I’ve ever received from Valerie is a treasure. But in this case…
I’m speaking here of a booklet of love coupons placed in my stocking one Christmas. You’ve surely received something similar at one point in your life – a bundle of certificates entitling the bearer, at his or her behest, to a smattering of various benefits such as back rubs, dates, baked goods, relaxation, respite from chores, or other goodies. Whoever invented these well-intended documents of doom wasn’t a master of foresight.
The problem doesn’t lie in the gift or the sentiment. It’s in the redemption. Flipping fondly through the book, I plucked out a coupon for a 30-minute massage and approached the one from whom the much-appreciated thought originated.
“Look what I found. Do you think I could redeem this tonight?”
Body language is an amazing thing. Val said nothing, but I suddenly felt as if her love were a dairy product and I was three weeks past the expiration date. With one look from her, I very clearly heard the following paragraph thunder between my ears:
“Are you kidding me? I’m eight months pregnant and about to pop in the middle of summer, and you have the audacity to bring me a COUPON? If there’s anybody who should be receiving a massage tonight, mister, it’s me! In fact, if you really loved me, you’d know when I was too busy or moody or tired!”
And there it is. Something that had been designed to show HER love to ME had turned into something that demonstrated my perceived LACK of love of HER. How did that happen? Stupid coupons. Back into the junk drawer until you’re more convenient to my wife – maybe on our twentieth anniversary getaway trip… in 2018.
That’s why, in need of unconditional promises I could count on (and a little sensitivity training, but that’s another essay), I pulled out the old concordance when I got to the office this morning, seeking out scriptures about which I could pray: “Look what I found. Do you think I could redeem this tonight?”
Valerie is human; I’m unwise. Our God is neither. He loves us more than we can fathom and He’s put together quite a package of unbreakable promises that have no flaw in the redemption, so long as we submit them with faith:
Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God's promises because of their faith and patience. (Hebrews 6:12)
Holding fast to promise in difficult times was a major theme for New Testament authors. These are just a few examples of the encouragement they offer through telling us what’s available to the believer through Christ (all quotations from the New Living Translation):
POWER, HOLINESS, ESCAPE FROM TEMPTATION & WORLDLINESS
“And by that same mighty power, He has given us all of His rich and wonderful promises. He has promised that you will escape the decadence all around you caused by evil desires and that you will share in His divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you feel bogged down by all the sin and negativity in the world, when you need to feel that your destiny is as something more than this crude earthly matter, but rather as a partaker of the divine nature.
THE HOLY SPIRIT, INCLUDING GIFTS, FRUIT, AND POWER
“And now I will send the Holy Spirit, just as My Father promised. But stay here in the city until the Holy Spirit comes and fills you with power from heaven” (Luke 24:49).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you need to remember that Jesus did not leave you here alone; He sent His messenger to fill you with everything you need to know Him and make Him known.
FELLOWSHIP, JOY, ETERNAL LIFE
“You must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will continue to live in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. And in this fellowship we enjoy the eternal life He promised us” (1 John 2:24-25).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you need to return to the first principles of the faith, being reminded of the benefits of walking with God.
SALVATION, BELONGING, RICHES & BLESSINGS, BEING CHILDREN OF GOD
“And this is the secret plan: The Gentiles have an equal share with the Jews in all the riches inherited by God's children. Both groups have believed the Good News, and both are part of the same body and enjoy together the promise of blessings through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you are overtaken by selfishness or self-centeredness, and need to focus on who you are as part of the Church and an all-inheriting child of God.
TRUTH, CONFIDENCE, ASSURANCE, LIFE
“Truth gives them the confidence of eternal life, which God promised them before the world began – and He cannot lie” (Titus 1:2).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you feel let down by those around you, lost in the temporal rather than the eternal, or in need of knowing that God can’t go back on His Word.
MEMBERSHIP IN THE FAMILY, PERSECUTED BUT FREE
“And you, dear brothers and sisters, are children of the promise, just like Isaac. And we who are born of the Holy Spirit are persecuted by those who want us to keep the law, just as Isaac, the child of promise, was persecuted by Ishmael, the son of the slave-wife” (Galatians 4:28-29).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you are downtrodden by right-and-wrong, do-and-don’t. You are born again free in the family of the Most High.
TRIALS, PATIENCE, ENDURANCE, THE CROWN OF LIFE
“God blesses the people who patiently endure testing. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
Pluck this out and turn it in when… you wonder at God’s wisdom and will, when tough times come your way, and when you feel you don’t have the strength to go on. Testing is guaranteed, so don’t despise it or your own discipline – how else would you be able to exercise your faith?
In other words, as my favorite worship song “Trading My Sorrows” puts it:
I am pressed but not crushed, persecuted not abandoned;
Struck down but not destroyed.
I am blessed beyond the curse for His promise will endure,
That His joy’s gonna be my strength.
Though the sorrow may last for the night, His joy comes with the morning.
That might be the best promise of all while we’re on this earth – new joy, new mercy every morning. Each day another chance. When those days get rough and we could use a backrub from above, all we have to do is open up the Bible and say, “Look what I found, Lord. It’s been a tough day. Do you think I could redeem this one tonight?”
Since the Lord is not a liar, not human (or pregnant), and the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, the answer is always yes. Until one day we experience His ultimate promise…
A FUTURE AND A HOPE
“We are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world where everyone is right with God” (2 Peter 3:13), and there will be no need of coupons.