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    by Susan McGrath

Batteries Not Included
Date Posted: January 21, 2006

The only thing my nine-year-old really wanted for Christmas was a remote control transforming (ugly) toy that can go through water and mud. The first words out of my mouth were "It's not coming back into my house after it goes mudding!"

Only one local store carried it and they only had two. The price was exorbitant for a toy, so I went back and put it on lay away. I knew nothing ever comes with batteries, so I purchased some of every size and shape for the myriad of toys we would be opening Christmas morning.

I vaguely remember reading something on the "super toy" package about needing six sub-C batteries. I had no idea what that meant, but hoped "C" batteries would cover it.

With Christmas on a Sunday, and several family celebrations to attend after church, we didn't get around to putting batteries in the toy until the next evening. Were we in for a shock!

Not only did the "C" batteries not fit, but the toy required a battery pack, made by the same company who made the toy. This information was revealed on page three of the instruction manual inside the box.

So I bought what I thought was the correct battery pack at the store where I purchased the toy (it seemed logical to me they would carry both) and could not tell without extracting it, by means of scissors and dynamite from its hermetically sealed, molded-plastic package, that it was the wrong one!

Hey, it was made by the same company and on a shelf near where the toy had been! I returned it and called the toll-free number for the toy company and spoke to a polite woman who really couldn't help me.

She informed me that the battery packs cost about $30 (on top of the unbelievable price of the toy) and could be found at several major retailers, just not in our town!

So began a nearly two-week search, involving several relatives, from St. Louis to Chicago and everywhere in between. No one had this item. Sure, I could have ordered it on-line and paid a shipping charge in addition to the $30 and the insane price of the toy!

I felt terrible. My son couldn't play with the only thing he really wanted for Christmas. I should have read the box more carefully. But let's be practical: Who can decipher all the technical drivel to get to "$30 battery pack sold separately and most likely in another store, if you can find it"?

Anyway to make a long story a tiny bit shorter, Granny finally found the battery pack. Then, would you believe the instructions for charging it (Yes, it had to be charged more than five hours before the first use.) were so vague that it took us fifteen minutes to get it plugged in and going.

When I took college English, we had to write instructions for how to assemble something. The instructions had to be clear enough to be read over the phone to a customer who had lost their copy. Apparently that's not a required course for anyone who actually has that job!

God's instructions are always clear. He spells them out for us in many ways through scripture. He leads us to more personal paths through prayer and meditation.

God's plan is a package deal. No "batteries not included" disclaimers or "sold separately" declarations. He gives grace and wants us in return. Clear and simple.

When the gift comes from God, we don't have to worry that anything will be excluded, incomprehensible or incompatible!

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all - how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" - Romans 8:32

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Biography Information:
Susan McGrath is:

a recovering journalist trying to encourage others and glorify God through writing;

living the small-town life with husband Tim and sons Lincoln, 12, and Sawyer, 6;

completing a few put-off writing projects while using chocolate for therapy.
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