Lately, it seems as though God has been giving me some real life interactions with the Gospel and the controversy made alive for my eyes to see real time.
This past week my husband preached a message that hit home for me. In a nutshell, to spend more time focusing on others, praying for others and helping others, instead of yourself. Seems real simple right…very “everyday kind of” sermon. I even have to admit that I’ve heard messages like this before. I thought, “Yep, think of others, I do that 😉”. Today however, I experienced something that gave me another perspective. It challenged what I thought about myself, others and God Himself.
I woke up this morning and took some time to make my meal plan and shopping list. It took me about an 1hr. I LOVE doing this! It creates a challenge for me, to come up with a plan for meals to feed my family for the month, while remaining within our budget. You know, spend wisely and smart. Plus, I love getting a bargain, and the feeling I get when I leave the store making a killing and watching my “Super Woman” cape fly in the wind behind me as I exit the store.
With this, I have a shopping circuit I follow. A few stores that I go to, that have what I need and fall within my budget. Today, I entered one of my second to last stores that I get really good bargains….ALDI’s! Yep, I love this store and I don’t ever feel guilty walking out with the products I’m able to snag there.
Well, as I called the trip a WIN, and headed to line for checkout, admiring my haul, I arrived to the check-out line at the same time as another woman. She wasn’t looking where she was going and I stood to allow her to go ahead in line. She finally realized, as she looked up from spying some good deal on the side of the isle, rushed forward and began to stack her items on the line to check out. I took a section divider and began to load my stuff behind hers. After a while, I noticed that the line wasn’t moving. Then eventually everyone in line began to grumble. I realized that the woman in front of me didn’t have her Payment. She riffled through her purse for several minutes, and the cashier was getting a little agitated. She seemed to still believe her card should be there, and eventually began to settle with the idea that she had lost or misplaced her money/card, but wasn’t quite ready to walk out of line and let the groceries go. I’ve been there before. So, we wait.
After a while, I felt myself getting a bit agitated as well. But then, I felt this overwhelming impression that I should pay for her groceries. I faught that for a couple of minutes, but then I remembered what my husband had preached and this was a practical way to step out and operate in that principle. “I had a budget though and work so hard to stay in that budget.“, I thought. But, now I am being prompted to go out of my budget to help someone else. Then I heard a voice say, “Your budget is not more important than this woman.“.
Now, as I tell this story, I am sure many probably think that this woman looked a certain way. You know, they could assume that she looked rather poor (whatever that looks like). Perhaps people will think that she was a certain color or ethnic group. But this woman was a well dressed, looked like she had a purse full of money (whatever that looks like). The assumption that this only happens to people who look a certain way, or are from a certain walk of life, or culture simply isn’t true!
At the moment I believe God told me to buy her groceries, and I decided to obey that call. I gently leaned over and told the cashier, who looked pretty over it at this point, to take my card and pay for her groceries. The cashier then replied, “You sure 😳?”. To which I nodded my head yes, and she proceeded. I didn’t want to embarrass the woman or make it a public scene. The cashier proceeded and then printed a receipt, to which she reached over and handed to the woman and said, “someone has paid for your bill, and you are good.” The woman then proceeds to reject the receipt and said, “NO! I have money, I don’t need that! No, give this back to her, I don’t need your help, I have money!”
I then realized that she was probably feeling like I had pitty of some sort for her. I tried to assure her that it wasn’t a big deal, that I understood she probably misplaced her card. Encouraged her to just pay it forward. Do something nice for someone else. She seemed to get even more upset and proceeded to tell the cashier that she didn’t need my help, and wasn’t going to accept this. She was still looking through her purse at this point, and the line was getting longer and longer.
Finally, she walked out the store and the cashier was in shock. I have to admit, I was a little stunded by how this all turned out. The thought ran through my mind that, “perhaps I should not have done that?! Maybe I should have ignored that ladies situation and let things play out the way they did. Helping people isn’t worth it, it seems”, were my thoughts. Yet, I knew that wasn’t true. Just then, as the cashier rung up my groceries, she began to talk to me and said, “You know what, that was a nice thing you did. I’m not sure why she acted that way, but God is going to bless you. I hope to do that for someone one day.” I smiled and thanked her for the kind words, but what she didn’t know is that this was a tough one for me. I don’t walk around all the time looking to be a blessing to someone. It’s just the truth! I often have my mind on my plans and my needs. It was a rebuke to me.
Once she was done ringing me up, I paid for my groceries, and then stood off to the side, for her to return to me the money I spent on the ladies groceries that were sitting right there, next to my cart. At that moment, I felt sad. I felt sad because she walked out without what she needed. I fought off the feelings of rejection, and rather tried to put myself in her shoes. Looking at these groceries, that were all ready to be taken home and used. Instead, she left without what she needed, all because the offer of having someone else pay the bill challenge her to be humble and receive the gift, with nothing asked in return. All I asked was that she show the same kindness to someone else.
As I road home from the grocery store, it hit me that this was one of those teachable moments for me. Seeing the Bible come alive and in action right before my face. Seeing someone reject a gift, freely given out of kindness and from the heart. To see her rambling through her purse, still looking for this “card”, while someone has already paid her bill. Refusing to humble herself, accepting that she simply doesn’t have the currency to pay the price for her bill. But someone was willing to give. It seemed absurd!
Then it hit me, “Wow, this is what Jesus feels like and goes through everyday.” Rejected by broke souls that are trying to take care of their own bill owed for the sin in their lives. Constantly searching and digging in empty purses, through rubble and trash. When He is reaching out trying to give you the receipt stamped with his blood, “PAID IN FULL”.
I then realized, THAT WAS ME! My pride and refusal to humblemyself looks just as ugly and just as foolish. Its like me trying to find my own righteousness and goodness in my life. Digging and digging, always coming up short, all the while refusing to take the righteousness of Christ Jesus, right there in my face. Eventually, we walk away from t he gift, empty and still searching aimlessly for our own currency, that doesn’t exist.
Today, I saw myself in that woman. It wasn’t pretty, it was painful, it was humiliating, it made no sense….and yet it made all the sense in the world.
God, today I come to you acknowledging that I don’t have the right currency to purchase the righteousness I need to be your child. I acknowledge that I suffer with pride and a refusal to humble myself to fully accept the price you paid on Calvary for my sins. I also acknowledge that I have in vain tried to stand on my own merit at times, only to fall short and still miss the mark. I want to stop digging aimlessly through my own righteousness or right doing. I accept the price you paid for my daily transactions of living. Help me to see others who struggle with this same issue the way you do. You stand there, and you continue to offer your blood as a payment for me. Daily, moment by moment, you reach your hand out to hand me the proof that you paid the price and that I can go free in Christ. As I accept this gift freely of grace, through faith, help me to willingly give it to others, with no strings attached, in Jesus name, Amen.