Monday, March 24, 2008

Random Acts

1 Corinthians 13
 12 We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13 But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.

A random act of kindness is sometimes all that is necessary to bring someone to a point in their life that they can see things more clearly. While shopping the other night in Wal-Mart we were ready to check out. We had our focus on the twenty or less check out but in counting Lisa and I found we had more, so we moved down a couple of rows and fell in line. As always there seemed to be a hold up at the register. There were several people ahead of us so I couldn’t see too clearly what was going on. All I knew was, there was a hold up and I was ready to go.

As always, we picked the line that moves the slowest but tonight would be different. Lisa was talking to me about something and I was looking over shoulders trying to get a look at the face that was causing the delay. All I could see was an arm and the credit card machine. Then I saw this lady’s face. It looked like she was under so much distress. My heart really went out to her at this moment. I wish I could stand here and say I prayed for her but I’m not sure if I did. I was so into the event that was unfolding before my eyes. She had tried several credit cards and found only a few dollars of cash in her wallet. Nothing was working. There was no way she was going to be able to pay for what she wanted. I looked into her cart and noticed she had Easter clothes for her children and some food. My heart sank, we had been right where she was standing.

When our girls were growing up it was a blessing to have five dollars left from our pay check. We were blessed to have water and heat most of the time but we never went one day without food and clothes. I guess that’s what was hitting me, watching this event unfold was reminding me of the grace of God. I was getting excited, my soul was stirring and I was getting ready to do something that Lisa and I live to do and that is a random act of kindness.

We have this rule, if someone needs help, then help them. We ask God to lead people to us that need an act of kindness. It doesn’t have to be money, it may be a simple hug that can change a persons life, a simple word that will bring things into focus for them.

So here we are, ready to pounce and ready to experience the joy of giving without a reason, giving out of love and nothing else. As I watched, she swiped her card for the last time, she was done, her face was that of pain and embarrassment. She had reached bottom. She stood there with her eyes looking towards the floor and suddenly a voice from nowhere said, “How much is it, I’ll pay.”

My heart jumped for joy at hearing this but there was no answer at first. The lady looked up and tried to find the voice in the crowd but she couldn’t. The people in line looked like they were in complete shock. Then the voice came again, “I’ll pay, it doesn’t matter the cost, I have it covered.” The people in line started to talk, “That’s such a nice thing to do. That is so sweet.” The man ignored all the voices and walked to the front of the line and handed the cashier what was due. He had paid the entire debt. The lady looked at him and said, “Thank you so much, I will pay you back”, he said, “You can’t do that, it’s my gift to you on this day.”

The lady, the cashier, and the people in line were in shock. I was moved with compassion as if I had just seen an angel come forward and take care of this lady but what I had witnessed was a random act of kindness that moved more than one person.

While watching and listening to this event unfold, I thought of my own life. I still experienced the joy of giving the other night as I was able to witness the gift of giving. Next time maybe I will be quicker to act before a person reaches such a low point.

I believe I witnessed the perfect picture of Jesus Christ right there in Wal-Mart. You see, at our lowest moments in life when we realize that we can’t pay for what we’ve done, we need to be saved from our sins. When we realize that we can’t do all of this on our own Jesus speaks right to you and says with a loud voice, “I have it covered, no matter the cost, you can’t pay me back, the debt is too great.” Oh, what a great picture of our redeemer and how he lives today.

While knowing what Jesus did for us was no random act, it was planned before time had begun. This act of kindness was towards you and me and was meant for us all.

So how do I end this story? As with all of my stories, there seems to be no end just a question, where are you at? What point in life are you at? Are you the lady in line at the end of her rope, not able to pay for anything, needing help but not willing to ask? Are you the person just standing there watching and saying, “I’m going to do that one day?”

Let me encourage you that life is so much more than the everyday, go to work, get home, cook and eat, then go to sleep. That’s routine and confusion. Life is about love, it’s about kindness and giving of yourself so others will see Jesus. Look at the verses we started with. Sometimes life isn’t so clear, sometimes there is a fog, but in verse thirteen there are some things we can do to make life better. Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly.

George Beasley, The Invisible Soul

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