Last Sunday night, myself, my teen daughter, and my youngest son stopped to do the grocery shopping for the week. My husband and I both hate grocery shopping and I guess we both tend to procrastinate about it. So, anxious to get it done, I ushered the kids inside. It was crazy busy. I guess the whole community had procrastinated as well. We went from aisle to aisle from vegetables to toilet paper and everything in between. Finally we were finished and I eagerly pushed the heavy cart toward the check out lane. My children worked diligently on helping me load the groceries on the conveyor belt with surprisingly little bickering (which to me was an added perk).
Halfway through the cashier ringing up our goods, I noticed the old man waiting behind us in line. He had a frozen pizza, a peppermint patty and a green pepper that were half hidden behind my mounds of groceries still left on the conveyor belt. I looked at his patient face and felt convicted that in my rush and self-absorption, I had not let him go in front of me while we were unloading our items. As the cashier bagged the last few items, I felt God speak to my heart nudging me to pay for his groceries and so I spoke up and asked the cashier to please add them onto my bill.
The man looked at me and emphatically refused, almost seemed insulted. “Ma’am I’m not going to let you do that! I have enough money to pay for my own food.” Oh wow! That’s not the response I expected. Blushing and trying to recover, I said, “Of course sir and so do I, although barely sometimes week to week but I saw you standing so patiently waiting for her to finish my full cart and I’m so sorry I didn’t even offer to let you go ahead. The least I can do is pay for your pizza!” His face softened and thanking me several times, he continued to deny me the pleasure of paying for his groceries. So, I finished my transaction and began to leave. The cashier kept telling me how kind and sweet it was for me to offer with a rather shocked expression. Somewhat embarrassed, I grabbed my full cart, gathered my kids and headed for the door.
Walking to the car, I felt dejected and regretful for even offering. This was actually not the first time I had offered to help at this store and turned down. I could not stop thinking how in this day and age, people seem to have become so wrapped up in themselves or so unaccustomed to genuine love and care that we can no longer carry out simple acts of kindness!
We loaded the car and got in. As I reached for the ignition, my daughter grabbed my hand and with misty eyes said, “I am so so glad that God picked you to be my mom!” This coming from my teen who at every turn I seem to embarrass. It warmed my heart beyond words.
As I contemplated later on these things, it came to mind that I was focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on the man and felt a bit put off that God would have me offer knowing I would be rejected. I didn’t think about what kind of example I was showing for all the rest around me. It really opened my eyes to such a greater picture of God’s amazing plan. My obedience to the Lord might not have been for the old gentleman, but rather a witness of God’s love to my children and to the cashier and others of which I might not even be aware.
Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”
A friend of mine recently reminded me of these words: “To love is to serve.” God’s great commandment is to love one another and to show that by serving others. It is sometimes so hard to do when we are rejected or don’t understand why God is asking us to do certain things for Him. As the scripture said, we must trust Him that he has a plan even when we don’t understand, even when we are rejected. Love and serve anyway. There is no better place to start than in your family and those closest to you.