by Janice Price
Standing behind the courtesy counter, Vickie rattled the Safeway newspaper ads, diligently seeking the sale on thirty pound bags of cat litter that I assured her was in print. Funds were limited and I was adept at finding bargains.
Benny, my friend and neighbor, was standing at the checkout line trying to look inconspicuous. I wasn’t able to do any heavy lifting, and he had walked across the street with me to lift the bag in and out of the shopping cart.
“I can’t find it anywhere, “Vickie said.
“But it’s there,” I insisted. “It’s what I’m here for today.” I wasn’t angry or argumentative, but since some of the city stores could be sneaky about putting higher priced items on shelves in place of sale items or not changing the regular price to the sale price, I had learned to stand firm when I was in the right.
“It is on sale,” called one of the cashiers. “I saw the ad myself.”
Vickie finally conceded defeat. “Okay, go ahead and give it to her at the sale price.”
Benny wheeled the cart home and carried the bag up the stairs to my apartment. I grabbed the morning paper and searched the ads for the item. I knew I was right. That litter was on sale.
And sure enough it was on sale at that price – at the ABCO store half a mile away.
Benny thought this was hilarious. I was embarrassed. Vickie was relieved.
“Thank you so much for coming back. I thought I was losing my mind. I have been searching the ads since you left,” she said. The cashier who had seen it advertised? She was just trying to resolve the standoff. “Besides,” Vickie joked, “you don’t want to be kept out of heaven over thirty-seven cents.”
It has been many years since this incident and numerous things have changed in my life, but I still tend to stand firm when I believe I’m in the right. Perhaps a little less often, since it takes time and energy to stand up for minor details, but I can dig in my heels for major items.
There are fewer store ads to confuse me where I live now, but there are more confusing doctrines and religious views than ever. One could easily become ensnared and led away from the one true God without ever realizing the subtlety of the error. John wrote that Christians should test the spirits to see whether they are from God and that is just as applicable today as it was then.
The Internet can be a blessing. It is capable of putting large amounts of factual data at our fingertips, but scams and rumors abound, people are not always what they seem, and there is a glut of misinformation readily available. False prophets can have Internet access and websites too. If we aren’t spiritually discerning, the eventual cost can be much greater than a little embarrassment and thirty-seven cents in cash.
One day Jesus will separate the sheep from the goats and we want to be counted among the sheep in the Good Shepherd’s flock, so we need to be aware of who we are following and what we believe. And when we know we are in the right, we need to stand firm.
© 2004 Janice Price