I am a firm believer that God makes no mistakes, and that is why when I feel like He is at work, I try to listen.
Tonight, The Reluctant Farmer called me while I was on my way home from work and asked me to pick up a can of chicken for a recipe she was making Christmas day. I was was really put off by this request because she had already been to the grocery store earlier this morning AND who sends someone to the store on Christmas Eve? Did she not understand what she was asking me to do?!
Normally, I would have gone to our small town grocery store, but for whatever reason, I decided I would take a back way home and I chose to stop at a Meijer's two towns over. (Meijer's is a huge grocery/department store that is normally open 24 hours a day, and they are quite popular here in Ohio.)
I grabbed a few last minute items to complete our Christmas shopping, including the can of chicken and made my way to the checkout line. At this time it's 5:30 pm, and the store is set to close at 6 pm. In front of me there was a couple arguing about something, and I was all about ignoring them until the husband looked at me and said: "You can go in front of us. She has lost our credit card, again!" I graciously said thank you and jumped in front of them. At this point there were 2 other people in front of me, so as I waited for my turn, I continued listening to the couple behind me and I could hear the woman say: "I know it's here! Just give me a minute!", as she dug through a purse the size of Montana. "You make me so nervous! I could find it if you would just stop pressuring me!" At this point the gentleman turned his back to me and I read United States Army on the back of his jacket. I could see him digging through a huge stack of paper and other unorganized chaos. (We ladies, know the stack... This is the stack of papers that resides in the bottom of our purses. Receipts, notes, old bills, etc...) when I heard him say: "Jesus, how much stuff can you fit in this purse?!" Silently, I thought to myself, "You haven't seen anything until you've seen my purse..."
Then I eyed the grocery cart.
I couldn't see exactly what was in the cart, but I could make out a turkey, some fruit, several pies, some soda and beer, plus some clothing. After 10 minutes of them going back and forth over how much stuff was in her purse, and the fact she couldn't find her credit card "again," I could hear Jesus speaking to me.
I called The Reluctant Farmer and did the ol' famous: "So, I need you to move more money to my checking account and I am not quite sure how much money I am going to need." Never batting an eye, or asking me if I was in jail, she moved money over to my account, and I spun around to say: "How about you let me buy whatever you have in your grocery cart."
They both quickly refused: "No! No, thank you! I mean the offer is very generous, but no."
I then rephrased the question: "Would you please allow me to buy what you have in your grocery cart?"
Very adamantly the man says: "No!"
I take a deep breath. Clearly this man does not realize I don't take "no" for an answer. I then replied: "Look, it's 5:30 pm on Christmas Eve. Clearly, she has misplaced her credit card somewhere in her purse, and from another woman's perspective, I know you could be here for a LONG while if her purse looks anything like my purse! There has to be a way to get you, and your groceries out of this store, and if you won't let me buy them for you, then how about I pay for them and then you can write me a check for the money that I spend?"
The woman says: "That's the problem. I don't think we actually have the money in our checking account to write you a check, that's why we are putting it on our credit card. Thank you for the offer though."
I then ask: "Were you in our military?"
The man states: "Yes, I was in the Army. I was deployed and came back a little over a year ago."
I said: "Alright, let's compromise. I know what it's like to be proud. Why don't you put the clothes back, and allow me to purchase the rest of your groceries. Consider it a thank you for the fact you fought for my freedom."
The man looked at me, thanked me, and left the line with the clothes in his hand.
I looked at his wife, who was now crying. She said: "Thank you so much. Seriously, you will never know how much your kind gesture means to me. He came home with a lot of issues, one of them being PTSD. He means well, but is quick to anger, and I'm sure that card is in my purse, but with him standing there, I just can't find it!"
We exchanged hugs, commiserated over large purses full of junk, and before I knew it her husband had returned. He wrapped me in a big "man hug," and with tears streaming down his face he said: "Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and that God blesses you greatly for your kindness."
I simply said "thank you".
What I wanted to say was: "I want for nothing. There is nothing I need. My job is great, my stomach is full, my house is warm, and my family is healthy. I have been blessed, that's why I am able to help you."
As I walked out of the store, I tipped my face up towards the sky and said: "Well played God! Well played! Here while I am worrying over the measly difficulties of going to the grocery store, there are folks standing before me who are worried about how they are going to eat. Message received!"
It took me a minute to reflect on the fact that of all the hundreds of people in Meijer tonight, God put those people right in front of me, and do you know why?! Because God doesn't make mistakes! Those folks me and I needed to be reminded about how blessed I truly am.
Merry Christmas friends! May the wonder and spirit of the season shine upon you and yours this holiday season! xo