Layaway No More
Julie Ann Gates was standing in line earlier this month preparing to pay for her items at a Walmart in Derby, Vermont. She overheard a man ask another customer who was in line in front of her about paying for his items. She recalled the man saying, “Listen, I can either have you put it on a layaway, and I’m going to pay for it when you leave. You’ll just have to come right back and pick it up. Or, you could follow me over to the cash register, and I pay for it now.”
Gates was curious about the interchange she was witnessing and then the man, who would become known as a benevolent stranger, approached her. "The guy turned to me and said 'are you going to put anything on layaway,'" Gates said.
When she answered affirmatively, the man said, “Well, why don’t you run and get what you were going to get and come back, and I pay for it. I have a few minutes before I go to the doctor.”
Gates didn’t know what to think of the offer but decided to follow through with the man’s suggestion.
When she came back to the same register with her desired items in her buggy, the man was still there waiting for her. He said, “Just go over to the cash register and I'll come over and I'll pay for it.” And he did.
Gates had trouble believing what she had just witnessed. “I said, ‘Oh my goodness! Thank you!” Gates recalled. “How could anyone afford to do this?” she asked the man. “He said, ‘Santa Claus can.’”
The benevolent stranger refused to identify himself. All that is known of him was that he must have been a fan of the New England Patriots because of the jacket that he wore as seen in a photo taken by a customer as he walked away.
Walmart wouldn't disclose how much the man paid or how many people went home with free gifts that day. Several happy recipients went home that day with some wonderful gifts and no indebtedness. *
Each of us owes a debt. We are in debt because of some foolish choices that we’ve made. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), and we are in debt. The debt that each of us owes is so enormous, that none of us has the resources to “pay it off.” Even if we could put our debt on layaway and try to pay it off by trying to be good people and doing good works, we still couldn’t repay what we owe.
But Someone came to our rescue. He paid our debt so that we could enjoy wonderful, eternal gifts. This benevolent Stranger is none other than Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He paid the debt for the sins of the world by giving His life as payment on a cross. Only the sinless Son of God could pay for the debts of sinful humanity. “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).
And, if you will allow Him, He’ll cover your debt, too. You must accept His offer on His terms.
God will wipe away the debts and give eternal life to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn away from sin in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38). He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
“He paid a debt He did not owe
I owed a debt I could not pay
I needed someone to wash my sins away
And now I sing a brand new song
Christ Jesus paid a debt that I could never pay”
-- Ellis J. Crum
Won’t YOU accept His offer of salvation and eternal life by trusting and obeying Him today?
-- David A. Sargent
* Details gleaned from “Anonymous man pays off all layaway items at a Vermont Walmart” by Bopha Phorn, www.abcnews.go.com, November 19, 2018.