Tag Archives: opportunity

No Cart Necessary

Ephesians 2:8-10

Now God has us where he wants us, with all the time in this world and the next to shower grace and kindness upon us in Christ Jesus. Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing.
Ever been in that one situation where it just seems impossible to give grace?  In the grocery store.  At the pharmacy.  On the roadways.  At the emergency room.  At the gas station.  Well…almost anywhere springs forth opportunities to not be of God for just a moment.  You know those moments where you try to cover up your Jesus Freak T-shirt just so you can be unchristian for just a second.  It’s okay right?  We are covered by a grace which abounds to the ends of the earth so if we mess up and say what is on our minds the majority of the time it’s okay.  Well,I feel that if we are freely given grace by our loving Savior then we too should aspire to live a life of giving grace.  Is it easy? Nope.  Are we going to slip up?  Yup.  But on a Christian level we should be headed towards giving grace more often rather than just spitting out what the world spits at us.
Here is a perfect example from my life just the other day.  I went to the local convenient store to get five things:  A gallon of milk, a gallon of fruit punch, 2 plastic containers of non-dairy creamer and 2 D sized batteries for my dad.  Being the strong woman I am (lol) I decide no cart is necessary and I gathered my items and headed towards the register.  Now of course all five patrons in the store decide to check out at the same time. Here are the customers:  a grandmother with a teenage grandkid who wants a scarf which is not tagged, an older man with just a bottle of cough syrup, another grandmother with her grandson with a cart filled with a variety of items, myself and a mysterious cart just around the corner which I cannot see.
Now, by nature I am pretty patient in settings such as this.  The grandmother who was ahead of me tried to let me go ahead of her, however I denied the opportunity, knowing they would just have to open another lane.  Now while you are reading this, please remember the lesson is grace.  So as the first customer is almost checked out, another lane is opened. As everyone moves forward I attempt to head towards it when the mysterious cart pushes through navigated by a woman about my same age loudly proclaiming, “Excuse me please,” as she whizzes by me to get behind the man with the cough syrup.  I stood there in amazement holding my now very heavy items.
This is where grace can get ugly.  As I watched her unload her cart of canned goods and many other items I begin to feel bitterness rise up in me.  I felt slighted and wronged.  How dare she just push through like that.  Didn’t she see I had my arms full?  Right when I felt I was just going to give into rejection the grandmother in front of me had just emptied her cart and gave it to me so I could put my items in it.  Grace. Twice. Right in front of me.  So I began to pray for the other woman and asked God to bless her, forgiving her for cutting in front of me.
Round two.  So just when I thought my flesh was calm and I had blessed her, she completes her shopping and begins to push past me to get to the door and loudly says, “EXCUSE, ME!”  And I bit my tongue at a retort I was about to spew.  Why?  Because I knew God was about to use me, for you see I had already begun a conversation with the clerk.  She was having one of those days and when I asked her how she was she replied with, “It’s one of those day that you don’t want to ask me that, it’s a loaded question.”  In that one moment even with the distractions around me I could see her need for Jesus.  I simply looked at her and said, “Well,no matter what kind of day you are having, Jesus wants you to know He loves you and that’s all that matters.”
That’s all I had to say and she was filled with hope right before my eyes. Refreshed with hope.  Now looking back if I had reacted negatively towards the other woman I would not have been a very good witness.  If I had gotten in the other lane, I would have missed an opportunity for Jesus to show up.  This is what the reality of grace is.  It is undeserved but freely given so that hope can be restored to those around us.  

How Many More Need to Perish?

Psalm 103:8
The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.

Who are we that we choose not to have compassion on those around us?  This is a burden I am carrying at the moment and I just want to highlight some things I have been feeling about this area of my walk.  So often we see the homeless or witness the handicapped people all around us, however, are we really moved to act out to help?  We say we don’t have enough to give or don’t have the time…mere excuses for not showing the mercy heart of the Father.

I was recently in Chicago for a class for work and we had an opportunity to visit the heart of downtown Chicago at night.  I went with some new friends from my class and we ate Chicago pizza and witnessed the sites of the city.  I saw several homeless persons along the way, however, I chose not to even stop as I was “busy” site seeing.  I did however say hello to an elderly couple who responded with a “bless you” and this began a work in my heart so deep for the people of Chicago that I had no idea what God was about to do right there in the dark of night in the middle of a HUGE city.

We arrived back at the bus station 45 minutes early and I decided to do a little shopping at a corner store.  As I entered the building a homeless man said if I had anything left to spare when I was done, he could really use a bus pass.  I said okay and entered the store.  a few minutes later I witness a military man in uniform asking the clerk to buy a bus pass.  As I turned my attention to what I had just heard, there was the homeless man patiently waiting for his gift.  I was so amazed at the act of kindness this man was doing I kinda got excited.  As I exited the store I saw this man standing on the busy street corner and I found enough boldness to walk up to this soldier and I explained to him just how blessed he was going to be for being so generous to this homeless man.  He was moved to tears.

As I walked away thanking God for the opportunity and was half way across the street when the homeless man called out to me.  He was asking for prayer.  He had seen what just happened to the other man and he wanted the same for himself.  I stopped in the middle of traffic and return to the street corner where there was about 10 people gathered and I poured all the Jesus I had in me into this mans heart.  Again moved to tears, this man thanked me.  Fearing missing my bus I departed the corner, however, God was not done.  As I was about to board the bus another man approached me and showed me all the money he had and explained that he needed another $5 to get into the shelter for the night.

Wow!  Another chance to bless someone and so I gave him the money and I grabbed his hand, asked his name and I prayed with him and blessed his life.  His spirits actually changed right there in the middle of the night in the heart of downtown Chicago.  Filled with so much joy at what God had just done I walk onto the bus and He leads me into a conversation with some young adults who had witnessed what had happened on the first street corner.  It was an amazing night as God used me to reach out to people that some would have just walked by and not even noticed.

Everyday we have the chance to share Jesus with complete strangers.  Everyday we have the choice to let someone know the difference between heaven and hell.  Each person we pass is an opportunity for God.  How willing are we to allow God to use us for His purposes?  How willing are we to be used by God to save lives?  He sent His only Son so that non should ever perish and be placed in the pits of hell.  What if you or I just kept walking by?  How many more would perish?