I Love How God Works
When my wife went to India for several months back in 2009 I picked up a part-time job working with Family Christian Bookstores to give me something to do in a new city. We’d recently moved to the Kansas City metro area and I was still getting to know people, so I thought it would be good for relationship building and for some extra spending money. I’ve kept the job since then and work a few times throughout the year, picking up around the Christmas shopping season to pocket some extra cash for gifts. (Usually however I end up spending anything I make in the store…go figure!)
Along with the few extra dollars I especially like the job because while it is a bookstore you get to help people find things that speak to their needs and, sometimes, even minister beyond a book. I remember once when a young man came in as a brand new Christian and wanted a Bible…but he didn’t know anything about Bible translations or study features. He found a nice study Bible he understood and really liked…then saw the price. He was a young kid and just moved in with his sister from the Atlanta area where he’d been in a gang and living in the world. As a brand new (literally the night before he was saved) Christian he was excited about his new life and wanted to learn and get to know God. But he became very dejected when he realized all he could afford was the small print $5 Bible. God moved on my heart and I pulled his sister aside and told her I wanted to buy him the Bible he wanted. It was a touching moment, and even more so when he came back the following week to thank me again and tell me excitedly about things he had read in God’s Word that spoke to him.
Then there was this past week. I was working a closing shift at the store and we are, of course, busy getting things ready for the Christmas season. I was actually thankful that there weren’t many customers because it’s hard to move stock and get things put out when you need to help them…and in retail, there is a lot of stock to move! we had several people who were in and out, but most were fast and knew exactly what they wanted.
But one lady seemed to be wandering around. She would pick up a book, read the back, thumb through it, and then move on to another one. She was there for some time, and at first indicated when I asked that she was ‘just looking’. Usually that is code for ‘leave me alone’ so, I kept my distance but walked by and smiled at her several times so she knew I was ready to help if she needed it.
Eventually she reached an area where she was looking at nearly every book and seemed confused. You can tell when someone is just browsing and when someone is focused on finding something that will address a need in their life, because they get certain facial expressions that become almost longing and desperate…like they need God to point to the book that will help bring them comfort or answers. This lady was at that place. After a few minutes of letting her stand there, I approached her again and asked if I could help her. This time, she broke open and told me that she had just recently lost a loved one to a tragic death and when through a divorce after her husband (who was supposed to be a strong Christian) had been found to be cheating on her for over 15 years.
To say she was emotionally devastated would be like calling the sinking of the Titanic bad news. She was a mess. But, she was strong in her desire to draw closer to God through it all and come out on the other side in victory and with joy. She just didn’t know where to start. I took her through and showed her several books about dealing with emotions (Anger and bitterness, specifically) and helped her find a book that addressed why bad things happen to good people. But I again sensed that there was a specific book that she needed. When she told me that she’d also just lost her job I saw an opportunity to invest in her life. So, after she got the books we’d discussed i gave her the other book that I just strongly felt she needed to read and told her to read it first and let God minister to her heart.
Then, before she left I prayed over her and blessed her. She was tearful and thankful as she left, and I went back to my stocking.
About two hours later the phone rang and I was told my by co-worker that it was for me. Seeing that I have a pregnant wife I wondered what might be happening. But when i took the phone on the other end was the lady from earlier. She was again crying but this time sounded different. She explained how she’d gone home and immediately started reading the book I gave her and told her to read. She said that she was nearly halfway through it and that God was speaking directly through it to her. She was already dealing with some issues that she didn’t even know she needed to deal with and said she could feel the spiritual baggage falling off as she’d been reading and praying.
We rejoiced together and I again encouraged her to keep going, and to be sure she was active and involved in her church so she could find support and love, and we hung up.
I’ve been thinking about this encounter since it happened, and just keep wondering how often we miss the chance to impart life into someone else and their situation, or minister healing to someone who is hurting, because it’s ‘not our job’ or ‘we are just too busy’. I was working, and my work afforded me the opportunity to minister. But I could have easily just left her alone to search for what she wanted, then checked her out and gone on about my business. Instead, I was sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit and was able to touch someone who needed encouragement. I’m so thankful that God gives us those chances.
Now, I need to make sure I’m not missing more of them.