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There's No Prize for Guessing


Morning Tea


Article Copyrighted - Debbie Porter (2002)



The gift of grace to us is free,
We just have to receive.
The only thing God asks is that
In Christ we do believe.

And yet, there is a cost involved
For walking with our Lord;
It is the price we have to pay
If we want to move on forward.


~ Debbie Porter ~



“Mum, can I have a morning tea one Saturday please?”

Kylie’s eyes sparkled with enthusiasm and delight as she bounced into the kitchen with her request.

“Well,” I responded with only the slightest hesitation, “you can have a ‘morning’ tea, provided you have it in the afternoon.”

Kylie happily agreed, because, like the rest of the family, she had a rather soft spot for our traditional Saturday morning sleep in.

“You won’t have to do anything at all,” she quickly assured me.  “I’ll organise everything.”

With that, she headed up the hall to the office and immediately signed up via the internet for “Australia’s Biggest Morning Tea”, which is an annual, major fund raising event for the Cancer Council.

To be honest, it’s the incredible simplicity of the idea which makes it work so well.  We’re a nation of tea drinkers, so what better way to raise money than to ask Aussies to hold a morning tea sometime during the month of May, with guests making a donation for every cup they drink.

Of course, our Kylie wasn’t content to leave it as just a “donation a cup”.  Her invitation included the very subtle message:

“PLEASE BRING MONEY!!  This is ALL for cancer research, so feel free to be generous.”

Ah!  That’s my girl!

Yet that still wasn’t enough in Kylie’s opinion.  She wanted to do more.

“I thought we’d have a jellybean guessing contest,” she suggested.  “You know, a gold coin donation for every guess of how many jellybeans are in the jar.”

It sounded like a great idea, as this meant $1 and $2 donations.  However, I did offer a slight variation.

“How about we make it something like ‘M & M’s’ instead.  I mean jellybeans are okay, but chocolate is way better.”

Kylie jumped at the idea, although was a little disappointed when she realised that as the “official counter” she wouldn’t be able to enter the contest.  But, I’m fairly sure that a “few” of the candy-covered chocolates were consumed while she was doing the big count.  Something like, “That’s one for the jar and one for me; one for the jar and one for me…”

Finally the afternoon arrived and a very small group of invitees braved the wet, cold weather to support their friend in her charity event.  Even Steve and Matt decided to set aside their usual Saturday amusements and join in, which took Kylie and me completely by surprise.

While the kettle was boiling and everyone was making themselves at home around our kitchen table, Kylie brought out the little container of coloured treats and started recording guesses.

Being a chocaholic from way back, Steve was first in line and “guessing” wasn’t on his agenda at all.  Very carefully he held the plastic box in his hands and examined it thoroughly from every angle.  A few minutes later he set it down and confidently whispered the verdict to his patiently waiting daughter.

When my turn came around I also held the box and counted the little sweets that lined the walls, but it really didn’t do me any good.  Mathematics was never my strong point.  In the end I made a guesstimation that had a lot more to do with wishful thinking than having any basis in reality.

Eventually all the answers were recorded and the moment arrived for the big revelation.  Who would be closest to the actual number and win the container?

There was an aura of self-confidence that seemed to surround my chocolate loving husband as he stated, “I’ll be very close!”

Although I knew that he was probably right, I couldn’t believe just how right he actually ended up being.

“There were 350 ‘M &M’s’ in the container,” Kylie announced.  “Which makes Dad the winner.”

“Thank you!  Thank you!”

Steve lifted both his hands in the air as though receiving a crowd’s praise and adulation, then reached over to take his prize.

“Oh well,” I thought with a sigh.  “I was only 350 out.”

Then, driven by curiosity, I asked, “What was Dad’s guess?”

“350,” Kylie said, reading from the sheet of paper in her hand.  “Exactly!”

Even though I was well aware that he’d been estimating for years because of the landscaping work he does, I would never have thought it possible to actually bring the same principle so effectively into something like a guessing contest.

I was impressed, but then recalled the number of times in the past where he’d estimated the amount of soil needed for a job, right down to the very last shovel full.  It wasn’t chance, it wasn’t luck and it wasn’t wishful thinking.  It was only possible through careful examination and evaluation of all the information at hand.

Interestingly enough, when we receive Christ as our Lord and Saviour, the same is true.  Jesus made it clear to those who wanted to follow Him, that they shouldn’t do so on a casual whim or “good idea”.  Instead, He warned:

“…anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.  Suppose one of you wants to build a tower.  Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it?  For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’.”
~ Luke 14:27-29 NIV ~

There’s absolutely no question that the gift of salvation is totally free to all those who will open their hearts and receive.  However, the fact is that the on-going walk as a disciple does come at a great cost.  That cost can be as high as life itself and in some nations of the world right now, that very price is being exacted from thousands of faithful believers.

Although we do it with the best of intentions and greatest desire to see people come into the Kingdom of God, we can sometimes make the mistake of watering down this cost of discipleship.  Now that doesn’t mean that we should become bound up in legalism;  in fact, nothing could be further from the truth.  But we really need to understand that when we come to Christ, the requirement He asks of us is total - we are to lay down our lives and live for His glory.

As a new Christians leader, I regularly saw people respond to the invitation to come to Jesus, without first taking into consideration what this actually would mean on a day to day basis.  All they could see was the immediate gain and the assurance of one day going to heaven.  Sadly, there were many who jumped into “building” this new life in Christ, without having first estimated whether they were actually willing to see it through to completion.  Then, when the first difficulty came along, they weren’t prepared and, because of that, very quickly gave up.

When we do take care to estimate the cost and consequences of following Christ and then, having counted that cost, take the step forward regardless, we’ll have an absolute confidence that in His strength, we will make it right to the journey’s end.

And won’t that be the greatest prize of all!



"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things.  Come and share your master's happiness!"

~ Matthew 25:23 NIV ~




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