Peter and I are garage sale junkies. We both see signs and instantly yell. “GARAGE SALE!!” My 10-year-old proceeds to yell, “TURN RIGHT!” and I do my best to whip the 15-passenger bus in that direction. Phillip, my oldest son, has no time of day for such nonsense. He then starts groaning, “Not again! Come on Mom, let’s just go home!”
Sometimes he persuades me to stay the course and keep heading for home, but other times Peter’s enthusiasm keeps me fired up and we ignore Phil’s grumbling.
Last summer we were on our way home from the library when we ended up at a moving sale for an older gentleman. He had a few fishing rods for sale and Peter was hot on them. His current rod was a closed reel, but he really wanted an open-reel like Phil.
The kind man not only sold him the rod for $3, but threw in a casting lesson for free. Our new friend lifted the rod up over his tired shoulder and in perfect form released it at the exact right time. His perfectly executed cast was brilliantly done, evidence of many years spent on the lake. We only had one problem. This gentleman had towering oaks lining his driveway and the line got tangled in one of the gnarly branches!
The poor man cut the line and gave Peter a new hook because the original was now dangling 25 feet above us in the air, forever memorializing that epic moment. He felt bad that he had damaged the $3 rod that he had just sold Peter so reached into his own tackle box and offered Peter a very special lure as a peace offering. This lure was so special that he named it. “’Dynamite’ is guaranteed to catch fish.” He promised us.
So, we jump back into the van and head home. Unfortunately, that rod turned out to be less-than-perfect and was buried in the dumpster not too long after.
But “Dynamite’s” story continues. One afternoon, early that fall, Peter came in with blood gushing from his hand. I look down at it and find Dynamite with not just 1, but 2 of it’s 4 trolling hooks deeply embedded into the palm of his hand. I did what any good mom would do and looked to YouTube for help. We tried a handful of techniques to remove it, but ended up making things worse, so, off we head to the E.R. for help.
Fortunately, we doctor in a small town, so I called ahead to let them know that we were coming and they said that we could actually get seen in the clinic quick. Whew… just dodged a $500+ bullet there! $180 doctor visit was much more palatable.
When it’s all said and done that dang tree-catching rod cost me $183! Remember Phil? My too-good-for-garage-sales kid? This 12-year-old has fine tastes. He does his research, saves his farm chore and egg money, and buys really nice things. His things rarely break down because he takes excellent care of them.
Phil spent over $100 on his rod and the special line that he insisted that he needed. Peter spent $3, and I foot a $180 doctor bill. Today, Phil is still the proud owner of a rod that has caught him dozens of keepers with a lot of life in it yet. Peter has absolutely nothing to show except for a few small scars on the palm of his hand.
This may be a bit of a stretch, but I am going to suggest that Peter’s thrift can sometimes be compared to cheap grace. It’s the mentality of “what is the bare minimum that I can do to gain salvation?”
Maybe that looks like slapping our foreheads in a rushed, mechanical sign of the cross before a hurried meal prayer. Maybe it’s sleeping in until the very last second on Sunday morning, throwing on a comfy sloppy outfit, and running to church at the last moment.
Praying before meals and attending Sunday mass are such important parts of our faith, but most of us just check them off the list of things to do in a very nonchalant way. Please don’t hear me wrong. I am not accusing anyone of spiritual laziness. As usual, I write for myself… this is something that I myself need to work on. With 7 kids sitting around the table, it is less-than-reverent during our mealtime prayer and I often rush through because I have starving kids to contend with.
It is just too easy to do the “church things,” out of obligation rather than do them out of love. We were taught to fear hell, so do the bare minimum to keep us out of those fiery clutches, but not quite enough effort to really explode into a zealous missionary to those around us.
We need to learn to be more like Phil- intentional in our efforts. Phil spends a lot of time learning about his craft (fishing) and knows what he needs to really excel at it. In our faith walk, intentionality looks like getting up extra early for mass, to have enough time to get ready for a date with the Lord. It’s really thanking God for the nourishing food on the table before us. It’s taking time to do some spiritual reading to learn more about our faith. It’s reading scripture to learn who Jesus is so that we can love Him deeper.
When we are intentional, we invest in what we love, and we love nothing more than Jesus. Leaning in and going above and beyond to learn how to love and pray are worth the time investment. We will be rewarded with the romance of a lifetime, and a palace in paradise for all eternity. The alternative? I’ll just let that $3 fishing rod fiasco speak for itself.
Until next time, my dear sisters in Christ,