The other day I was walking through a town in North Yorkshire and a man was handing out free chocolate bars. As he approached me, without thinking I refused and carried on walking. If I had paused to think about what he was offering I would have realised how crazy I was to turn it down and immediatly have gone back to claim my free gift. Later I realised I had turned down the chocolate for two reasons: the first, there must be a catch! He must want me to sign up for something or there must be a secret hidden payment somewhere, no one would be that generous. The second reason was a little more subtle. I realised that normally when I am in a town centre I am going somewhere on purpose, to the bank or an appointment and therefore much too busy to stop and chat with passers by. I was so used to that mentality that I just got into the habit of saying “I can’t stop, I’m busy.” The truth was, it was a day off, I was in town that day relaxing with friends, I wasn’t busy at all, certainly not too busy to stop and take some free chocolate. But I was so used to thinking I was busy that I had tricked myself into thinking I couldn’t possibly pause and just enjoy a free gift for a moment.
My wife did actually stop and take the free chocolate and not only that asked who the man was and why he was doing what he was doing. Turned out he was the pastor of a Vineyard church and was giving out free chocolate to bless his town. There was no catch, hidden payment or sign up fee.
Knowing the truth I now watched with a differen perspective as the pastor continued to offer free chocolate. Some of course took some but I was amazed at how many people did the same as me. Some immediatly shook their heads and gave a “I’m too busy” gesture and carried on walking. Others did stop and you could see them thinking about it. After a moment you could see the look on their faces “what’s the catch here” and they shook their heads thinking “I’d love this to be true but it can’t be, it’s just too good an offer”
I think this would make a great illustration during a gospel message about God’s free gift of salvation.
However, for those who are believers, your heavenly Father has wonderful gifts to give you today. The gift of His grace, His peace, His forgiveness, His healing, His provision, His Word, His Spirit. Unlike what the man on the television told you, there is no catch! It’s not dependent on whether you give to a particular ministry or sow a special seed. Neither is it dependent on how much of the Bible you have read this week or how well behaved you have been. It’s not dependent on how many days you have fasted or how many hours you have prayed. These things we do out of joy to enter into deeper relationship with Him, but never to twist His arm to get Him to give us things. His hand is open and He holds out gifts to give His children today, no strings attached.
Finally, you are not too busy! The man was holding out free chocolate for goodness sake! You are a real looser if you are too busy for free chocolate! I don’t care what you have on your to-do list today. Pause. Rest. Be still. Your heavenly Father has something to share with you today, something to give you, something for you to partake in. Now chill out, enter His presence and breath deeply. Enjoy the taste of heaven’s aroma. All the riches of heaven, the beauty of Christ and the promises of His Word are yours to discover and receive, simply by resting in His presence. Surely, you are not too busy for that?!