There was a man who entered a big store that was running a promotion like that. He didn't know it was going on and only wanted a few things. He didn't want to take the offered cart, but the people at the front door insisted that he take both the cart and a ticket since they were close to their 1,000,000th customer and they wanted everyone that was in the store shopping to have a chance.
Eventually, they announced the winning ticket number over the store's loud speakers. The man interrupted his shopping and looked at the ticket and saw that he had won. He smiled. Some other people around him had also noticed that he had won.
Next the store restated the rules: Everything that the person with the winning ticket could fit in their cart would be free if they got to a reserved check out register within 15 minutes. If the person went over 15 minutes, they would not get any prize at all. The 15 minute shopping window would start in exactly 10 seconds. The countdown began. 10... 9... 8... 7... 6... 5... 4... 3... 2... 1... SHOP!!!
The man kept on shopping normally. He examined the prices on each item, selecting just the things on his list that were the best value for him. He shuffled from aisle to aisle. By this time, he had quite a crowd following him shouting to buy this and that and encouraging him to stuff his cart full of small expensive things. The time was running out and the store clerks were getting concerned. After all, it wouldn't be much of a sales promotion if they couldn't show a man with a huge cart full of stuff that he had gotten free just for shopping at their store.
Finally, he moved toward the check out. The time was running out. Instead of going to the reserved line that would have checked him out immediately, he just picked a normal line and suggested that someone else with a bunch of kids use the open check out so they could get on their way faster. Of course that line was reserved just for him, so they couldn't make use of it.
He finally got through the check out line and the manager of the store met him and congratulated him on having the winning ticket. He then began to quiz the man as to why he had made only a few normal inexpensive choices when everything he could have possibly wanted was available for free. The man said "I don't need anything else." "But what about all the books we have?", asked the manager. The man said that he had a lot of books at home that he hadn't yet read. He didn't like most of the authors that were on the shelves and wouldn't read their books anyway... Why clutter up his house with a bunch of books he wouldn't read?
"But what about all of our DVDs and videos?", the manager asked next. The man commented that he wouldn't go to see the vast majority of them if they were at a movie theater... Why would he want to waste his time watching them at home for free? "But what about our delicious steaks?", the manager asked next. The man replied, "Well, since my surgery, I can't really digest rich food anyway, so it would be pointless to buy stuff I couldn't enjoy." Then the manager did a very unusual thing. He gave the man the few items he had selected, of course, but then he also filled out a very special certificate. Since the man really hadn't made use of the things his store had to offer, the manager gave him a free pass to repeat the promotion at some time in the future of the man's choosing.
The world today is trying to tempt us with the pleasures of the moment, trying to get us to believe that they are free. All of those around us are pressuring us to go with the flow and indulge our passions with all of the things of the world. God is pleased with us when we resist the pressures that the world applies.
I'm not saying that by resisting the things of the world that we will be presented with those same pleasures if we stay the course and make it to heaven. But the rewards of heaven will make the things of this world pale in comparison. That is the blank certificate that God has signed for us when Jesus was sacrificed on the cross for our sins. It is all waiting for us if we make it to the checkout line in time without being distracted trying to fulfill all of our lusts and passions on the things of this earth that will pass away.
How about you? Are you distracted by all the pretty things that Satan is putting in your path? Remember that the way to heaven is straight and narrow [Matthew 7:13-14]. Christ said that few would be able to stay the course. The gates and road to hell are broad and many are heading that way. If you aren't sure you are on the right path, read the Gospel message and make a choice for God today.
I truly feel that Jesus is coming back for His church very soon. Regardless of whether or not I am correct, many will die today of accidents, natural causes, or unnatural causes. Whether they have made the right eternal decision or not, most will not be expecting to die today. Be prepared for the unexpected. Choose God's plan for salvation!