Everybody loves free stuff. Some free stuff literally will fall from the sky. Other free things show up in the mail. From time to time, a nice person will place something in front of me to eat, for free. It doesn’t matter how free things are acquired, because free is key.
During my elementary years, the end of summer always brought a lot of free stuff into my possession. Walking around the county fair (where I got free admission going with the group from the nursing home), I filled my free bag with free things as I stopped at booths overflowing with free information. Most of the stuff was useless for someone my age, but I sure looked fierce with a feather wrapped around my head, a meter stick in one hand, and a bag full of loot in the other.
As a teenager, September was full of anticipation for the upcoming winter. Going to the premier of a ski movie showcasing the best skiers in the world up on a big screen meant two things – drool down the front of your shirt (free) and free gear for all. T-shirts get thrown through the theatre like snowballs on a playground. DVD’s fly threw the dark like clay pigeons wrapped in plastic. Raffle ticket numbers are read with as much respect as a eulogy with everyone hoping to win a free season pass, new skis, a jacket, that fuzzy hat, and the ever illusive Alaskan Heli-skiing Vacation. The only thing sweeter than the smell of the first snow is the smell of free gear.
The other day I was driving through a nice quiet neighborhood, yielding to the school bus driven by the lady with pink hair and a flat bill cap. Just a normal day in Minnesota, right? Wrong! I saw something on the side of the road with my favorite sign scribbled onto a piece of yellow paper – FREE! There it sat, in all its mustard yellow glory, you’d think I had just found gold - looking tired, forgotten and old – a free bike!
Do I need another rusty old 10-speed bicycle with flat tires and malfunctioning brakes? No, but it was free.
Did I need that pair of skis? The bent, purple, K2 Big Kahunas? No, but they were free.
Is it completely necessary for me to eat those cookies and drink that punch? No, but they’re free.
Should I join the Collegiate Philosophical Astronomers Playing Chess While Throwing Frisbees and Listening to NPR Club (C.P.A.P.C.W.T.F.L.NPR.C.) when I attend their first meeting? No, but there will be free pizza.
Could I have made more money working at McDonalds during my summer break after my freshman year of college? Yes, but I got a free T-shirt unclogging toilets at camp.
Did I really want to fold towels and sheets, shovel snow off the roof, and chop firewood in a crawlspace? No, but I got to fly in a helicopter to backcountry ski lodge for a week, for free.
Throwing a party? Want people to show up? Make posters that say “Free Beer!”
Today while I was at the office, my co-worker Matt stuck his head in and asked “Does anyone want four FREE tickets to the Vikings game tonight?” My heart skipped a couple beats. The cause of this slight medical emergency was either the coffee and potato chip dinner I was eating, or the free tickets. Have I ever been to a professional football game? No. Were these tickets cheap? No. Could someone get them free? Yes! To make a long story short, my job had me going to the first Hopkins High School home football game instead, so I did not go to the Vikings game. Fortunately, I was able to get the tickets and give them to some friends , so they could enjoy a little Favre fever ... for free.
Of all the free things I have received in the past 22 years, one thing stands high above the rest. It has brought me adventure, comfort, friends, joy, healing, tears, purpose, identity, laughter, and hope. It has made me who I am today. My life has been changed forever because of a free gift that we can all receive.
I think Paul says it best …
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)
In less than 24 hours, I’ve told eight people about the bike I got for free ... Have I told anybody about the free gift of eternal life that God has given me?
I love to tell people about my free T-shirts when I wear them ... Do I love telling people how I am free from the punishment I deserve for my sin?
Eating free tacos was the highlight of my day on Tuesday ... Is the highlight of my day being filled with God’s love (for free) when I spend time reading the Bible, and listening to Him?
When you really break it down, free is key.