He has identified us as his own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment that guarantees everything he has promised us.

– 2 Corinthians 1:22 NLT

They lie alongside the roadside, waiting for a lawnmower to crush them or for some boy to pick them up and return them to a store for the deposit money.

Once upon a time, before manufacturers of soda decided to package their product in aluminum or plastic, they placed it in glass. And on the bottle, manufacturers stamped the words, “Return for Deposit.” Retailers, and then customers who bought the product, paid a small deposit — three to five cents. If they returned the bottle to any retailer, the retailer would return the deposit to them.

My cousin, who lived out in the country, always looked for ways to make money. When I spent time with him during the summers, I joined in his escapades. One involved picking up bottles. From his house to the nearest small town was about one mile. He took one side of the road and I took the other. By the time, we reached town, both of us had found a few bottles lying along the roadside. We took them to Bert’s farm store, and he gave us five cents per bottle. Doesn’t seem like much now, but then a quarter went much further.

For various reasons, bottle production faded away, and aluminum and plastic took over. Some manufacturers later returned to putting a limited amount of their product in bottles, but the “Return for Deposit” was missing. Now, it says, “No Deposit No Return.” I can spend my time picking up bottles and returning them to a retailer, but they won’t accept them —and they won’t give me any money. The best I can do is recycle them.

Manufacturing companies stamped their names on their products so the bottle got back to the right place. According to Paul, God does the same. When we trust Christ as our Savior, God places an identifying mark not on us but in us: the Holy Spirit. He’s a person and a part of the Holy Trinity, along with the Father and the Son.

The good news is that God won’t take back what He’s deposited, such as retailers and manufacturers once did. In the Old Testament, God gave His Spirit intermittently, when He had a special job for someone to do. But after Pentecost and the birth of the Church, God gave the Spirit permanently to His children.

Great advantages come with having God’s Spirit: perfect guidance for all circumstances, perfect wisdom for every decision, strength for any mission God sends us on, perfect peace — regardless of the pain or dire straits we encounter — and life as we could never experience if we didn’t have the Spirit.

Don’t waste the value of what God has deposited in you. Let the power of God’s Spirit lead you to the life God has planned for you.

Martin Wiles lives in Greenwood and is the founder of Love Lines from God. He is a freelance editor, English teacher, minister and author who serves as managing editor for Christian Devotions and as a proof-editor for Courier Publishing. Wiles is the pastor of Buffalo Baptist Church in McCormick. He is the author of six books and has been published in numerous publications. His next book, “A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapades in a Busy World,” is now available on Amazon.