Saturday, June 11, 2011

Don't Miss the Chance

One day this week I was in a hurry to get to the bank counter in our neighborhood grocery store.  I could see ahead there was already a line and only one teller working.  As I made my way there, an eldely man got in front of me with his shopping cart.  He was very short and round with pants buckled tightly around his chest (you know, how your grandpa wore his pants) and he was plodding along painfully slow.  Impatience started to rise up in me because I was in such a hurry.  But I absolutely love elderly people so my impatience melted into a smile as I wondered what his life was like.

I finally made it to the back of the line in front of the teller.  The customer at the front of the line was having issues and took at least ten minutes.  While we were all waiting our turn, I watched the old man shuffle with his shopping cart over to the ATM.  There were only a few meager items in the cart.  He slowly took out his debit card and inserted it into the slot.  I wasn't trying to look...I didn't mean to look...but the writing on the screen was so large that I could read it very clearly from where I was in line several feet away.

His balance was twenty five dollars.  So many thoughts raced through my mind when I saw it.  First, guilt at having seen it, then horror that he only had twenty five dollars for the food in his buggy, then anger that a man who has probably worked hard all his life only had twenty five dollars for food.

I watched as he looked down in his cart.  I knew he was mentally adding up the cost of the food he had placed in it.  He slowly put his wallet back in his pocket, his hand shaking and shuffled off to put some of the food back.  My mind was racing.  I had no cash with me but as soon as I got up to the teller, I could make my deposit, get some cash and give it to him. 

But that darn lady with the issues was still arguing with the teller and there were others ahead of me.  I impatiently waited and at last, there was only one more customer ahead of me.  He began to talk to the teller and it turned out that they attend the same church.  So a long conversation ensued about how much they love their church.  I wanted to yell that there was an old man in the store that the three of us could help if we would just pull our resources together.  But I didn't say anything.  Why?  I'm usually so bold about those kinds of things.  And I could tell that the other two were very kind and probably would have responded positively to my plea.

My turn came and I made my deposit and got some cash.  I went through the grocery store, aisle by aisle, but I couldn't find my little elderly man.  I walked to my car in tears trying to imagine what his life looked like.  Does he have family that visits him?  Does anyone care enough to check on his food situation?  Why didn't I do something faster so that I could have helped him?

The Scripture in Matthew 25 came to my mind where people were telling God of all the great things they had done for Him in their lifetime.  But He said, "I never knew you.  I was hungry and you never fed me, I was thirsty and you didn't give me drink."  I don't want to be that person.  I felt like the Lord was gently telling me that He wasn't angry with me.  He just wants me to always be aware of those people around me who need anything and be willing to do what I can.

There is a bumper sticker that reads "If Christianity was illegal, would there be enough evidence to convict you?".  I want to make sure that my life shows what is written in my heart!  When I bump up against hurting people, I want them to feel so much love coming from me that they feel accepted and heard and valued.  I have often given someone a few dollars or some groceries, but I felt like I had failed that day.  It reminded me to not hesitate or wait, when I feel the nudging of the Lord to bless someone.  I have thought about that man every day since and I know I won't make the same mistake again.

From His lap,

24 comments:

  1. Powerful story. It's great that you even thought of helping. Shows God is working in you.

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  2. Thanks, Matt. I always want to be sensitive to His voice, his nudgings. I want Him to say "I knew you well."

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  3. Oh, Erin! That has happened to me also. I wrote about it as well.

    Years ago, during a very financially challenging time, I was at our bank, taking out about the last $25 we had to buy food. As I walked to my car, I overheard a man talking to another man, “Now what am I going to do? The bank will be closed until Monday. I won’t have any money.” For some reason, he could not get any money from his paycheck.

    God prompted me to give him my money, but I never found out what the problem was, because I got in my car and drove away - to my shame and embarrassment. I thought if I gave him the last of my money, how would I feed my family?

    That was before I knew better how to obey the Lord, and to this day, I deeply regret it.

    So glad to know I'm not the only one who has missed an opportunity and regretted it. Blessings to you, sweetie!

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  4. It's not a mistake if you learn something from it.

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  5. Lynn, I think Marty (The Napkin Dad) is so right. We both learned a valuable lesson...to always be watching for opportunities for the Lord to work!! Thank you, Marty.

    Lynn, you are such a tender hearted soul. You cotinually bless me, sweetie!
    ~Erin

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  6. Look at how many people have been touched by this post. Maybe that was His plan for this interaction.

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  7. Well, what an awesome way to look at it. I'm glad I went through the experience then!
    ~Erin

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  8. Great post. I am a new fan of your journey from Bloggy Moms!

    http://www.ourbananamoments.com
    http://www.facebook.com/ourbananamoments

    Marsha

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  9. Thank you so much! I am following your blog!

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  10. I'm so glad I found your blog! I love your perspective on life. It's good to remember that I still have a lot of growing to do, I know my daughter teaches me all the time. If you have a chance, come check out my adventures as a mom and more!
    Amanda
    http://talesfromamother.blogspot.com/

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  11. Thanks Erin for sharing such a powerful story! As I sit here thinking about it, I wonder how many other elderly folks are going through the very same thing. My hope is that others will be touched in a way that helps them reach out to others in such desperate need.

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  12. I am not a religious person, but I find your description of your belief in Christ both honest and compelling. I consider Christ a profound figure, one who challenged his followers at every turn, one whose behavior we could all emulate and produce a much better world. I believe in the immortal soul and God's grace. Your life honors your soul and shows up as grace in the lives of those you help, and try to help.

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  13. That is such a heartbreaking story. All too often we are presented with situations that test who we are and how we believe. You never know, God may put that man in your path again.

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  14. Erin, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. I don't always like the reasons but God knows better than I do. I feel as though God knows your heart and what your intentions were that day. You have already blessed many people with this story and encouraged us to keep our eyes open for angels unaware!

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  15. Rob, that last sentence you wrote in your comment really blessed me more than you can know! I'm so glad to know that my life produces evidence of what I believe.

    Kristen, I just know that even if it's not me, the Lord will bring someone across that man's path who will bless him!

    Karen, Thank you for your kind words. I'm always watching for them now! I don't want to miss the next opportunity!

    Thank you all for being so encouraging!
    ~Erin

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  16. Erin,
    Your story touched me... I hope you find that man again... together we can make a difference!
    Thank you,
    Lisa

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  17. Erin,
    This brought tears to my eyes. I could feel your heart. The Lord will give you many opportunities, and I believe you will be ready. Don't allow satan to put guilt on you. I don't think you are letting him, but I'm sure he's tried.
    Your dad and I are being moved in some unique ways for the Lord, too. What a priviledge to serve Him!
    I love your blogs, Erin. Thanks for continuing to send them.
    Love,

    Susan

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  18. I seriously just teared up. Poor guy. I wonder those things too when I see a lonely older person in the stores. I want to hug them! Following from Bloggy Moms...looking forward to reading more!

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  19. Thank you, Stacey. There are people around us everyday that we overlook who could use a blessing. I'm going to seek them out!!!

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  20. Oh, Erin ... I so wanted this story to have the happy ending you were trying to achieve. You'll have a chance, again, to pay it forward. I know you will. But it's a good reminder, as you say, to decide when it's OK to be impatient and forthright. Sometimes it just iS ;-). I would have wanted to do the same thing to help him.

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  21. I know, Melissa! That's how we learn. I'm going to be ever watchful from now on!!!
    ~Erin

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  22. Oh, how I relate to this, dear friend! The Lord gave you a great reminder of the need to act quickly when He nudges you. Although, I'm not sure what you could have done differently in this case, but it sounds like you learned a very great and difficult lesson! {HUGS} Jenn

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  23. Hi Erin -

    You're a very very good person. God Bless you and those that surround you in your life. :)

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  24. Thank you, Brian! God bless you and yours too!
    ~Erin

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Thank you for giving us a little nugget of truth from your heart!

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