Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Paying It Forward

Yesterday Bella and I made a trip to Walmart. While in the checkout line, I noticed a woman behind me with just a few items. She was quiet. She looked like she had seen some rough days. Maybe it was because I was buying mother's day cards for my mom and mother-n-law, and I was wondering if this woman was a mother or if anyone would care to send her a mother's day card..but there it was, The Voice saying, "pay for her groceries." So as discreetly as I could I told the cashier that I wanted to pay for the groceries of the lady behind me. As the cashier began running the woman's groceries through, the woman, said, "No, those are mine." The cashier said, "I know." The woman seemed confused but the cashier proceeded with her items. After I had paid for our groceries, I turned to the woman, touched her arm, and said, "God bless you." She responded, "You too." She didn't seem to understand what had just happened. As Bella and I turned to walk away, I heard the cashier explain to the woman that she "had been taken care of today."

I walked to the car with tears in my eyes. I noticed my receipt--the woman had bought a coke, a dog treat, some cat food, some gel pens, and a phone card. I wondered if her pets were all she has; and if the phone card would allow her to talk with someone in her life who cares for her. As I pulled out of the Walmart parking lot I saw her walking across the street holding her coke and new belongings. I said a prayer for her. I said a prayer for the cashier and others at Walmart. I explained to Bella what had happened and later explained it to my son so that they might know the blessing of obedience and how we can share Jesus with others by sharing God's love.

Today I had to return to Walmart. I ran right into the cashier from yesterday. We met each other with smiles. We discussed what had happened. I explained that I felt like it was something God wanted me to do. She said that it had affected not only the woman whose groceries I had paid for, but the 4 to 5 people who were in line behind her. She said the customer was "shocked" and "grateful." I told her what a blessing it was for me.

I hesitate to share my experience for fear that the reader will think I'm sharing it only to receive a pat on the back. I share the good things, the times when I am obedient only to encourage. What I don't always share here are my struggles, the times I disobey God and don't wait on Him; my repeated tendency to take things into my own hands and take action before I really pray a thing through or hear from God--the times I lack faith. Giving to someone in need or paying it forward is one of the easier parts of walking out my faith. The harder part for me is to be consistent in my daily time with the Lord--the part that no one sees and for which there are no pats on the back. The more difficult part for me is really trusting the Lord; and being patient, waiting, abiding, not taking things into my own hands like I do so much of the time. The hard part for me is my pride--and wanting people to think I'm something I'm not.

Something occurred lately that was really devastating for me, humiliating and humbling--of my own doing. My first tendency was to run--to move, to leave my church. It brought back all my failings. I've had a life time of screwing up, choosing foolishly, using poor judgement, and not thinking things through.

The events at Walmart don't change my screw-ups, my failures, or how some may view me; but they do remind me that God is a God of multiple chances; and His mercies are new EVERY morning. They are a reminder of the blessings of obedience; and that it truly is better to give that to receive.

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