Recently I took my eleven-year-old son to purchase his back-to-school supplies. As we worked through our list of items, we played an informal game of matching the items from our list with the items on the store shelves. With the store becoming more crowded as we shopped, we wisely positioned our cart at the end of the aisle, leaving it unattended as we searched for our remaining supplies. Finally, we were finished and headed for the check-out line at the front of the store.
As the clerk scanned our items, we were distracted by the display of candy and the friendly glances of an elderly woman standing behind us in line. Unbeknownst to us, some of the items being scanned and placed in our shopping cart were not the ones we had chosen. Our bags were soon filled with a combination of school supplies for an eleven-year-old and the school supplies of a grad student. For fear that the friendly glances of the elderly woman would soon turn impatient, we hurriedly paid for our supplies, as well as the supplies of someone else, and left the store.
On our way home, we solved the mystery of the mixed-up school supplies. Apparently, about half-way through our shopping trip, I had mistakenly exchanged our shopping cart for the shopping cart of another. In the process, we sacrificed our water-color paints and pink erasers for college-ruled composition notebooks.
As I thought more about our mixed-up shopping trip, I was reminded of grace and how God made an intentional exchange with each of us. At the cross, Jesus took all our sin and traded it for his righteousness. He paid in full a cost that we could never pay.
As I think now about those pink erasers and water-color paints, the ones I had attempted to purchase for my son, I’m reminded of my scarlet-colored sin and Jesus’ blood-stained cross, and I’m thankful. I’m forgiven, and I’m free. I guess it took a shopping trip and the Holy Spirit to remind me of that!