Tuesday, June 2, 2009


Several months ago, a tenant at our self-storage facility abandoned several pieces of furniture. Although the stuff was obviously ‘used,’ it wasn’t in such bad shape that it deserved to be thrown in the trash. So, we made a few attempts to donate the stuff to various ministries and other charitable entities, but no one ever came to pick it up.
Last Friday I decided to try another avenue to get rid of the stuff by offering it in the “free” section of craigslist. So, I posted the “free” ad at 4:30 Friday afternoon. Even though our self-storage manager takes off on Fridays, I listed her name as the ‘contact’ assuming that if anyone was interested, they probably wouldn’t get around to seeing the post and calling about it until Saturday.
Between 4:40 (ten minutes after the post) and 5:20, we fielded no less than 20 calls about the mattress set, couch, coffee table, and ironing board. And all of the items were gone by 6:00, along with another mattress set that someone had left at the dumpster for other business a few weeks ago!
I deleted the post from my home computer around 7:30 Friday evening. Yet, when I checked my email on Monday morning, there were approximately 25 emails in my inbox, received between 6:00 and 7:30 Friday evening.
It was amazing. And what caused the extreme interest and hyper-activity? That magic little word – “F-R-E-E.”

If the word “F-R-E-E” generates that kind of interest when attached to used, stained, and discarded furniture, how much more attraction should it generate when attached to something of real worth? I mean, when the offer of eternal life in the never-ending presence of the one and only true God is made available for F-R-E-E, wouldn’t you think the world would just go berserk trying to avail itself of that offer???
But that is not really my point today. Instead, my focus is on something I see in myself. I would describe it as a kind of “reverse buyer’s remorse” after having already accepted that “free” gift. As you know, with “buyer’s remorse” you start over-analyzing a purchase and begin to obsess about whether or not you should have paid that much for a particular item. But with this “reverse buyer’s remorse,” I start to realize what an indescribably wonderful thing this ‘salvation’ is and then I start to doubt that it could really be “F-R-E-E.”
“It’s way too good to be true.”
“There’s no such thing as ‘something for nothing’ - especially ‘something’ as miraculous as this. Right?”
So I begin strategizing what I can ‘do’ to justify what’s been given to me. “How ‘good’ must I be to substantiate what I’ve received? After all, I’m just a used, stained, and discarded piece of furniture in the overall scheme of things.”
I look for ways to please God because I don’t want Him to stop loving me. I have to at least be better than somebody else so that the ‘relativity scale’ may tip in my direction.
I can’t let Him know that I’m not worthy of the “F-R-E-E” gift He has given me. So, to keep God from concentrating on what a worthless heap I really am, I try to keep Him occupied with some “what have you done for Me lately” good deeds.
But that isn’t working out so well for me. I try to keep the number of my ‘good, holy, and righteous’ deeds and thoughts higher than my bad, evil, and depraved acts and feelings. But still . . .
We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds,they are nothing but filthy rags.
(Isaiah 64:6, NLT)
Besides the fact that the absolute best, ‘most holy’ things I can do are as ‘filthy rags’ compared to Him and His holiness, all it takes is one itsy bitsy, teeny weenie little sin at any time in my life to make me completely and totally unqualified for and incapable of ever being in His presence. (Romans 3:23)
Except for that “F-R-E-E” thing.
And by “F-R-E-E,” I mean free for me. “God saved [me] by His grace when [I] believed. And [I] can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” (Ephesians 2:8, NLT, emphasis added) Because I didn’t deserve it and can’t earn it or pay it back, it is truly a “F-R-E-E” gift.
But it wasn’t really “F-R-E-E” in the sense of there being no cost. In fact, there was an incredibly high, unfathomable cost. But Someone else paid it. “God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8, NLT)
And that’s when it really hits me: If I presume that in some way, by some means, I can begin to earn, deserve, or pay back the “F-R-E-E” gift I’ve been given, I am saying that the cost that was paid by Jesus may not have been adequate – that something else may be needed.
But that’s not the case. Not by a long shot.
The ‘cost’ was totally paid. Perfectly paid. So the gift is “F-R-E-E.” Totally free.

To ponder the miraculous, awesome, wondrous grace and love that is bound up in that little word – “F-R-E-E” – it just leaves me with an overwhelming urge to embrace and relish this precious, “F-R-E-E” gift that I’ve been given.
“Thank You Jesus. Thank You. Thank You. Thank You.”

If you are thirsty, come!
If you want life-giving water, come and take it.
It's free!”

Revelation 22:17, CEV

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