Do you remember S&H Green Stamps? If you do, please bear with me while I explain them to the younger folks.
When I was a child S&H Green Stamps were hotter in the eyes of adults than Cabbage Patch dolls and Beanie Babies combined. Businesses would hang signs in their windows declaring they proudly gave the valuable green stickers with every purchase. Merchants loved them because they enticed customers to spend more money in their stores. The more they spent the more green stamps they received. Customers loved them because they could collect them and trade them in for free valuable merchandise at the redemption center.
My grandmother, Josephine, was an avid stamp collector. Whenever I would go grocery shopping with her we couldn’t wait to check out and hear the cashier ask, “Do you collect green stamps?” “Oh, yes!” she would reply and our mouths watered as they were counted out. My job, after we got home, was to lick the backs of all those stamps and paste them in the collection books the S&H people happily supplied. Sometimes, I’d try to get creative and form a pattern of green stamp initials on a page until my grandmother caught me and reminded me that every page had to be completely covered. She would rubber band some of the books together for me, hand me the green stamp catalog and tell me to pick out a prize since all my food had begun to taste like green stamp glue.
Our trip to the redemption center was like Christmas. I’d go retrieve the toy I had picked out of the catalog and hand my bundle of books to the lady behind the counter. She would flip through each book to be sure all the pages were covered, count out the appropriate amount of green stamps and hand me my prize. It was a great feeling!
While going to that redemption center with my grandmother was exhilarating, I have stood at another of life’s redemption centers all alone and felt the weight of the sin-filled pages of my life. You’ve probably been there too. In fact, there are some who stand at the door of that redemption center with sin-filled pages who feel they will never be worthy to even enter. They see a store full of blessings that are only for those who have done greater things or accomplished more for God. Others come with their sin-filled pages covered with good deeds. They feel they have worked hard collecting the stamps of approval from the world and their mighty works have given them permission to enter the redemption center and receive all the blessings it contains. But, there are a few who come humbly to that center knowing their sins are covered with the blood of Jesus. There are no creative patterns formed to expose a single sin. Every page is completely covered. Every sin is blotted out. They enter the redemption center knowing it was Jesus who did all the work and paid the price. They joyfully enter into the redeeming love of God knowing all their past and future sins are completely covered and they can respond to His grace and mercy with actions of love and not duty. Redemption offers many blessings, but perhaps the greatest is the immeasurable peace that allows us to relax in God’s love knowing we are free from guilt. Only then will others follow us to the redemption center, allow their pages of sin to be completely covered and receive their prize of redeeming love and peace.