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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Blue Ribbons

These blue ribbons from the Oklahoma State Fair are pretty neat to a 4-H member who has had something place at the fair.  Of course, the blue ribbon is always the 1st place ribbon.  Because it's the State Fair it means a little bit more to the winner.  It means they placed 1st at their county fair to even be able to go to state, but then that their entry won over all of the other entries.  Perhaps they won over lots of other entries.  The prize is this ribbon and a sum of money.

When my children were little, they would enter lots of items in our local and county fair.  For one thing, it helped the local fair have more entries, but it also gave me an opportunity to do craft projects with my children all summer long...in preparation for the up-coming fairs.  An added bonus was that they won some money along with the ribbon awards.

After each fair, my daughter would take all of the ribbons - hers, mine, her brothers - and put them on a shelf that had five pegs.  She put all of the first place ribbons on the first one, 2nd place ribbons on the second, and so on....ending with the 5th place ribbons.  She enjoyed her collection.

When she was five we moved to a different house.  I told her the ribbons had to go....that we weren't going to keep all of them in the newer house.  She was a little disappointed at first, but quickly forgot about it.  We donated all of the ribbons to our county extension office to be recycled and used for the fairs.  To this day we still donate back all of our ribbons - keeping only a few for scrapbook purposes.  My kids have gotten so many ribbons in their lives that it isn't special to them any more.  The ribbon doesn't mean that much to them, though the placing that the ribbon represents does.  They still enjoy placing first, naturally! :)

On the flip side of this thought, I have a new 4-H member in my local club who entered a pencil drawing at the county fair.  He was soooooooo excited about his project and couldn't wait until it was time for the drawing to be judged.  As he rode home with me one day, he analyzed the other entries in his drawing category.  He kept saying, "I think I got this!  I think I can win this!"  He was so cute!  So you can imagine his excitement when he visited the fair the next day and found that he had won 1st place and that his drawing would be sent to the Oklahoma State Fair to compete at that level!  He was very, very proud of that blue ribbon.  I'm sure it's in a place of honor at his house!  He didn't place at the state fair and was disappointed that it didn't, but he's already ready to compete again next year - trying to do an even better job on his drawings.

Sometimes when we are "used" to blessings, we forget to recognize them as blessings.  We may become ungrateful and complacent in our thinking.  But we shouldn't.  We should be just as thankful in times of abundance as we are in times of drought, shouldn't we?  It may be harder to be thankful at the sparse times, but we should still praise God in those times.  We should still thank Him for the blessings we do have - because even in sparse times, our blessings are really still abundant if we will just stop and look around.

Yes, my children take winning ribbons for granted.  They've been doing it since they were little.  However, my little 4-H member doesn't.  This year - as a 9 year old - was the first ribbon he had ever won.  He was ecstatic!  He thought of it as a wonderful prize - something special that he took pride in because of the time he had spent on his entry and felt that he did a great job.  He was thankful for that prize and for what it meant.

This makes me think of our Christian lives.  Many Christians were "raised in the church"...meaning they attended worship with their parents as a baby, grew up worshipping and attending Bible classes regularly, were baptized many years ago, and still continue to be an active part of the Lord's church for the remainder of their life.  They've never known any different.  Of course, they recognize that they sin and that they had a need for a Savior, but they didn't ever go through a "rock bottom" stage of life.

On the other hand, some Christians weren't raised in a Christian home.  In fact, they had no knowledge of any type of spiritual life while growing up.  As a teen, they got into trouble.  Alcohol, drugs, sexual promiscuity were a big part of normal life until soon, addictions took hold of their life to the point they couldn't function.  They became beaten down.  Broken.  They hit rock bottom.  But someone came to visit them at the prison.  This person took the time to talk to them about eternity and God....Jesus....Salvation.  The person talked of how the blood of Jesus could wash all of the sin away.  It could be totally forgiven and explained that a new life could begin - a new life in Christ.  The person gave their life to God, claimed the promises spoken of in His Word, and put on the Lord in baptism to have their sins washed away and to be white as snow.  A baptized believer who was very thankful for the forgiveness of sins and for this new walk of life in the footsteps of Jesus!

Two extremes.  Both Christians.  Both thankful for their salvation given freely by God's gift of His Son.  Both thankful for a Savior who was willing to sacrifice His life for their life.

But what's the difference in the two?  The first Christian is thankful, but may not have the same appreciation for the gift as the second one.  They may even take it for granted. Not that it's the right attitude to have, but sometimes it's hard to realize just how special something is if you haven't seen the flip side of the scenario.  The second Christian knows what he/she has.  He/she knows how special that saving grace and forgiveness really is.  They've known what it is like to feel totally away from God.  They lived it for years.  The first Christian had God in their lives forever.  They lived it their whole life.

Which one are you?  The first Christian or the second or somewhere in the middle?  It would do us all good to think about how we think of our life in Christ.....analyze how we feel about salvation and our need for the Savior.

We don't want to get used to being a Christian....like my children have gotten used to getting the ribbons.  We want to remember how special that salvation and forgiveness really is!  We want to be excited about that gift, just as my little 4-H guy is excited about his blue ribbon!

Think about the gift today.  Think about the prize.  And think about how your feel about the sacrifice of Jesus for you.

1 comment:

Wa Wa Waughs said...

It is a real danger to feel "comfortable" wherever we are in our walk with God!

I really like the way you handled the ribbons with your kiddos! Teaches them that's it is NOT about the trophies and ribbons.

 
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