In my early elementary years, we lived in the small New England town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island. Dad moved us to Rhode Island while he was an executive with the Richfield Oil Company. While there, Sinclair bought out Richfield and Dad had succeeded with the new company. He went on serve in the State Senate and House of Representatives, and also as the Chairman of the Republican Party.
I attended school at a small brick schoolhouse known as Davisville Elementary School. It was pretty great. I rode my bike to school, back home for lunch, and then back to school. In the winter, we played hockey on the pond at my school, and on Sunday’s attended Green Meadow Baptist Church. Dad helped plant that church, and dozens more across New England.
One of my favorite memories of North Kingstown is a tiny store on the way from school to the house. I’ll never forget the gray and red paint job and the RC Cola sign proudly stating the name, Stephen’s Store. It was a real Mom & Pop place, with a few groceries, staples, and the most awesome penny candy on the planet! Several times a week, using money from my paper route or cutting grass and carefully select my little brown sack full of penny-candy awesomeness.
Mr. or Mrs. Stephnen’s would patiently wait for the other kids and me to pick about 15 cents worth of candy. On paper route collection week, I might even spring for a single pack Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, as it was 5 cents. And on big weeks in the summer, I would add a Yoo-Hoo or a Tahitian Treat Soda.
Life is a bit like Stephen’s store. You get to choose what you want. I can’t ever remember a time that I enjoyed a piece of candy that some other kid dared me to get. Especially when I knew what was right for me. Fruity Mike and Ike = Yum. Pink, white and black Mike and Ike = yuck. Anytime that I choose a path that isn’t what I know is the Divine’s path for me = yuck. When I seek peace, wisdom and His will = yum. Get it?
The great news is that God allows us to walk into life’s Stephen’s Store and pick. He doesn’t force Raisenettes on us. He lets us pick Butterfingers. Maybe you’ve forgotten that He has a plan for you. Plans for you to prosper, and plans for you to succeed wildly.
Today, step up to the candy counter of The Divine and pick. Take your time. You can pick wisdom or foolishness, His way or the world’s way. You can choose gratitude over stinginess, graciousness over anger, and servanthood over selfishness.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made plenty of bad choices, and they’ve all left a really bad taste in my mouth. Today, I’m choosing Twizzlers over tart black licorice. How about you?
The Scriptures teach us in Deuteronomy; “…I have set before you life and
death, blessing, and cursing: therefore choose life…It is our choosing that determines which path our life will take. We know that God is no respecter of persons and when we follow God’s laws, the Bible says we will be blessed coming in and blessed going out. But there is a reverse side to that equation. If we rebel against God and do our own thing, then the Bible is also true when it says we will be cursed coming in and cursed going out. The certainty of either outcome is based upon the decisions and choices that we make.”