October 5, 2012

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Earning those points for our eternal reward in heaven

Patti LambRecently, a national pharmacy introduced a new points card, and I feverishly read through the introductory flyer, calculating ways that I could rack up points and earn my first reward.

If I purchased featured weekly sale items and got my flu shot there, I was almost halfway to a $5 gift card.

Later that same afternoon, I redeemed my fuel points at the pump—from a separate grocery store points card—and saved 10 cents per gallon. I was on top of the world.

I suppose I have a foolish weakness for points, and everyone seems to be giving them away. Credit card companies, airlines, hotels and retailers constantly offer consumers ways to accumulate points and revel in the rewards.

I find much joy—possibly too much—in earning “free” merchandise, travel rewards, gift cards and discounts. Collecting points feels so productive and lucrative, especially on days when I accomplish little else.

Talk of points came up at church the other day, and it caused me to think of them in a whole different way. A group of volunteers walked out of church, and one woman in the group bemoaned the fact that she had to do some tedious—and basically thankless—work. It had to be done, though, and if she didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done. Then a wise person in the group piped up and said something I won’t forget.

“Ah, yes, but consider the points you’re earning in heaven,” she said.

She briefly explained that acts of kindness and service for which there will be no earthly payback do, in fact, earn us points in heaven.

My thoughts turned to a time when I bent down to tie my elderly aunt’s shoe for her because it would have hurt her back to do it herself. She said, “Do you know that you just got a point for that?”

At the time, I didn’t understand that she was referring to points in heaven.

So now when I must photocopy church bulletin inserts, scrub crock pots after the school’s chili cook-off or sew buttons back onto my husband’s shirts, I try to remember my wise friend Katie’s three little words—points in heaven.

I hope you will say them to yourself the next time you shuttle the kids to practice, baby-sit for your neighbor’s child or decorate cookies for a bake sale. You are busy building the kingdom of God even if you’re doing it in a hairnet or sweatpants. Not all of God’s work is high-profile. It often goes unnoticed and underappreciated, which can make us feel unimportant.

But we should realize that points in heaven are the most important kind of points there are. They buy us far more than our credit card points ever could.

St. Paul told us that no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him (1 Cor 2:9). And eternal rewards never expire.

I am reminded of the Bible verse from the Gospel of St. Mark, “But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Mt 6: 20-21).

God notices all the little things we do for him and others. One day, he will thank us for being His hands and feet here on Earth. So we should do our best to rack up those points in heaven. It will all be worth it.

(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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