June 5, 2009
Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to Me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to Me; hear Me, that your soul may live.
Good news! You can get into any national park for free on three weekends this summer!
The parks already were anticipating a busy tourist season, due to the economic downturn. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s announcement this past Tuesday was made to hopefully “give a small shot in the arm to businesses” in the communities surrounding the national parks.
All 147 park service sites that charge entry fees will waive them the weekends of June 20 and 21, July 18 and 19, and August 15 and 16. The savings is not a lot—the fees normally range from $3 to $25—but if this encourages more people to come out to the parks, then I’m all for it!
I just read an article from the McClatchy-Tribune News Service (it’s an interesting piece, but unfortunately not on the web) about our reaction to free offers, specifically food. It seems we kind of go a little crazy when it comes to getting a meal on the house. In February, 2 million people waited up to an hour at Denny’s restaurants across the country to receive a free Grand Slam breakfast, an item that normally costs $6. The other day many Chicagoans saved around $3 when they stood in line 30 minutes or more to get a free slice of pizza. And when Oprah recently announced she’d pick up the tab for a complimentary grilled chicken meal from KFC—valued at less than $10–her website was swamped (the promotion is now over). One woman said it took her over three hours to print the coupon.
Trust me, I’m as thrifty as the next person. It’s the way I was raised (thanks, Mom!). I’m always looking for a deal. But even I know that sometimes a free offer is just not worth the time and effort.
There’s one offer, though, none of us can afford to reject: the gift of Jesus’ death as punishment for all the wrong things we’ve ever said, thought and done. This present is without cost to you and me. We can’t earn it. We don’t have to stand in line or download or wait for it. It’s already been bought: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 2:8, 9). All that’s left for us to do is accept the package.
Everything I’ve ever spent money on, all the people and causes and activities I’ve poured myself into have never slaked my thirst for what I really need—significance, forgiveness and contentment. Taking God up on His offer has. I’m here to tell you it’s so worth the time and effort!
Maybe you won’t be able to get to the parks this summer to enjoy these fee-free weekends. But if you’ve never delighted in God’s priceless and rich fare, I pray you’ll help yourself.