Hardly a week goes by without someone in our house making the comment “whatever did we do without the Fred Harper’s?” Before moving in to live with my sister, I know what I did because they were mine. Now that she’s been using them, she can’t imagine what she did without them. What in the world are “Fred Harper’s” and why have they made such a difference? You need a little background to understand.

Fred Harper owned one of the gas stations in town when we were growing up. Ever wonder what was in that empty lot on the east side of Main Street between the Holy Smoke Texas BBQ and the White Mountain Ranger Station? Fred Harper’s. Somehow I came into possession of a pair of inexpensive aluminum tongs with his name, address and phone number engraved on them, along with the words “Seasons Greetings.” They were a free promotional item, obviously not high-end, but definitely functional. I don’t know what was used before, but now in our blended kitchen they are a handy little item—whatever did we do without the Fred Harper’s?”

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing until you get something. Then you can’t believe you managed for years without it. That’s often the way it is with a life committed to following the Lord. I’ve heard people say that before they gave their life to God they didn’t realize what they were missing and now they don’t know how they managed without Him.

The list of what they were missing is almost endless: peace during those times of stress and worry—“Cast all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you” (I Peter 5:7), Someone who understands when you’re going through pain and sorrow—“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18), a way to handle depression and discouragement—“The good man does not escape all troubles, he has them too. But the Lord helps him in each and every one” (Psalm 34:19 TLB), and how to handle situations when others are against us and we feel alone—“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you…The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me? (Hebrews 13:5-6).

Perhaps even more important is the list of what was missing in our relationship with God: freedom from guilt—“So overflowing is his kindness towards us that he took away all our sins through the blood of his Son, by whom we are saved” (Ephesians 1:7 TLB), a way to handle temptation—“…God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (I Corinthians 10:13), and God’s direction in making life’s decisions—“Trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success” (Proverbs 3:5-6 TLB).

The “Fred Harper’s” were a free gift to anyone who came to the gas station. Salvation through Jesus Christ is also a free gift to anyone who comes to Him. The answer to “Whatever did I do without the Lord?” is different for each person. I hope that you are in a position to look back and ask that question. If not, don’t wait any longer to accept God’s free gift of salvation. It’s engraved with the nail scars of Jesus as he hung on the cross for you.