Most people will type their pin-number into a credit/debit card machine more times in December (Christmas shopping) and January (the sales) than the rest of the year. Have you noticed that as each shopping trip progresses then pin machines seems to get slower and slower? There is a pregnant pause whilst your purchase is “awaiting authorisation.” Even a short delay can be quite embarrassing as the whole shop looks on wondering if your card has been stopped. Sometimes the shop assistant smiles awkwardly, or uselessly fiddles with the lead whilst mumbling something about the machine being so slow.
Eventually the word comes through “approved.” The green light comes on, the card is back in your wallet and you’re off. It might take all of 60 seconds but if you’re in a hurry it can seem like an age.
As one way of keeping perspective through this season of spend, spend, spend, can I invite you to use the 60 second wait to reflect. Whilst you wait 60 seconds for your payment to go through, there was another payment that took 6 hours. For 6 hours Jesus hung on a cross. 6 hours of utter darkness, that must have seemed like forever, as the world looked on and the shearing weight of the world’s anguish rested on his soul. There he patiently waited until the word came from heaven: “APPROVED.” And with that he died.
Each time you wait the 60 seconds for your card approval, remember the One from heaven who waited 6 hours till everything – every last grubby thought and grotty deed – was paid for. Then go, giving thanks not for what you’ve just paid for but for what has been paid for you. It’s the reason for the season:
45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”