. . . this is all I have to give?
It’s the best gift of all!
. . . this is all I have to give?
It’s the best gift of all!
I will never forget a certain Saturday afternoon . . . I was “babysitting” my younger sister and a family friend. We walked to a local shopping mall and wandered around for the afternoon. Just before we set off for the long walk home, I decided to treat them to pizza. I was just a high school girl at the time. We were “cool” and so in the nearly empty pizza place, we sat in the very back of the shop.
We were finishing our pizza and the girls, sitting opposite me, grew frightened. I turned slightly to see what was happening at the table behind me which was connected to ours as “booths” so often are. What I saw is burned in my memory and always will be. I saw two men who were likely quite young, though in the eyes of a teenage girl, seemed much older. One held a gun and was swinging it around his finger and smacking it against the jukebox at the table. I can’t tell you what they looked like, I’d never seen a gun aside from a rare television show . . . not the sort of show my parents would approve of as a rule, but I knew what I was seeing.
All I could think of was how to protect myself and the girls in my care and my body just froze. The girls began to chatter and I told them to sit quietly and focus on their food. There was no way we could move from our seats without making our situation worse. Then the men saw us and approached out table.
As one man leaned very close to me . . . so much so that I could smell the garlic on his breath, he said to me “you’re not going to say anything about this are you?” In that couple of seconds, I could think of nothing to say to make this any less ugly than it was. I made an effort not to look into their faces, trying not to shake even though every fiber of my being seemed to be shaking so badly my stomach was sick . . . I heard my voice say “the jukebox was broken anyway.” He leaned even closer, he touched my shoulder, and said “you’re a good girl” and left. The young girls and I just sat there. I saw the men walk out the exit of the mall into the street. When my body was able to move once more, I awkwardly comforted the girls and walked silently, with them, to another exit and we walked home. I can still recall assuring the girls, whom I insisted walk ahead of me so I could keep an eye on them, that it was a fake gun and that the guys were long gone, but with every step I walked, I expected it to be my last. Was the gun real? Was it fake? Why did they have one? Had they ever “done anything” with it? I’ll never know. I can feel my stomach twisting now just as it did that day. True to my word, I’ve never spoken of it, until this moment.
Give yourself entirely to those around you. Be generous with your blessings. A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
– Steve Maraboli –
When I was formally baptized in the Holy Spirit, I came home so excited to share my Jesus with the world! I didn’t have a blog back then, wasn’t employed, and lived in a place full of strangers . . . I stayed home a lot since money needed to last. Some of those things are still true, but stay with me here, for there’s more.
You see, I prayed in frustration “Lord, you blessed me and I just want to share this with the world. I want them to know you, too, but how can I do that now? I don’t go anywhere but church and grocery shopping!”
He calmed me but I will admit there was no clear message in response. Shortly afterward, I did have to go to the grocery store. I will say it’s a chore I never liked. Nothing to do with money, I just never liked that particular chore. This time was different.
I didn’t think to pray for Him to place people in my path for me to reach for Him. He will if we ask. He likes it when we do. I didn’t think of it back then. He did. Before I even got in the store, He placed people in my path. Some were Christians who witnessed to me, and others were folks I found myself speaking to in ways I’d have never done before, but He gave me words and courage and I was able to do this through Him.
The people I spoke to were complete strangers to me. They weren’t wearing tee shirts proclaiming their beliefs, nor was I. It was all Him. I still don’t go out much but for necessary errands and church as I’m still walking a path toward provision . . . but I never go to the grocery store without seeing, hearing or speaking of Him! Know what? I love to grocery shop!
If you haven’t given Him your heart yet, I urge you to do so. You simply cannot imagine what you’re missing! If you know Jesus already, please share His love! The opportunities are everywhere. Your love, blessings, and compassion shared might be the only glimpse of Jesus someone sees that day!
Yes, you read the title to this post correctly. I met Jesus at the mall. NO, it was not the first time we’ve met, but I’d have to say it was the first time I was particularly aware of meeting Him there. It was amazing!
You have, by now, read other posts related to a recent visit I had from a very dear friend and priest from the northeast who came to my home recently and what a blessing it was for me to have him as my houseguest for a week. On the evening of his last day here, he needed to have some exercise as he is having a very difficult time with his knees, hip and back and it seems doctors aren’t much help (pray please, dear readers) and so we set off to the mall.
I know you are aware of and praying for my vocation and financial provision needs, so when I say I’d not been in the mall in a couple of years, you’ll no doubt understand. So, off we went at our own pace with agreed upon places and times to reconnect. I have a foot injury so couldn’t keep pace with my eternally young retired priest friend. Recalling that the mall used to have a Christian bookstore, I set off to find it. This turned out to be a challenge in a mall that’s arranged to get you lost inside never to find your way out. Not only did I have difficulty finding the store, but mall employees seemed doubtful that it existed. It did.
Upon finding it, I did advise its solitary employee that perhaps a bit of promotion might be in order. He greeted me joyfully and in answer to his “how are you today” I cannot say what I replied with, but it’s common for me to slip Jesus into the conversation and my need for a job . . . so common that it comes naturally to me. He responded with “yes, sister. How can we be anything but amazing with the Lord in our heart?” Next thing I knew, hearing my mention of “the only thing that would make it better would be . . . ” related to my financial provision challenge, he stepped from behind the counter, took one of my hands in his own, raised his other hand toward the sky and prayed quite spectacularly for me! The Holy Spirit was upon him as he prayed knowing truths I never revealed.
I no longer knew what my intended purpose in coming to his store was. I was overjoyed at finding Jesus there and literally floated out of the store on the wings of His love for me. In trusting the Lord to lead, we never know exactly what will be asked of us in the road ahead, and ministry for Him can take many forms. For this man at the mall, his job as a store clerk is a ministry and this touched my heart in a big way. I’m not a fan of shopping malls, I admit, however when I pass one now I will be thinking of Jesus and thanking HIm for always supplying my needs.
Scripture says to pray without ceasing. This means, I believe, that we are to invite Jesus into everything in our lives, even something as seemingly mundane as a bit of mall walking! At all times and in all places, praise Him with a thankful heart!
Well, not really.
Thing is, I used to be fairly happy. I had it under control. Life was okay. Then the Lord planted a seed in me which caused some changes and a lot of last few years have included growing pains. Sometimes it was and is hard to think of anything but the pains . . .
Know what? Happiness is totally conditional based upon external stimuli. Joy isn’t. Life in Him mean walking via His path and seeing with the eyes of my heart but not my mind. Wierd. Scary. W0nderful. Changeable.
There are often times when things do not go as I planned. There are times I’m saying “Okay, Lord. I’m confused so I’m blindly following you.” Duh! That is what He wanted all along.
Know what? There are days, like today, when nothing happened as I planned and my “to do” list grew rather than shrunk. Suddenly, in the middle of a crowded grocery store parking lot amid confusion of tired hungry people and bored small children and traffic, the Lord spoke to me in love and filled me with His joy. My joy has nothing to do with anything at all but for the fact that HE IS.
So, by now you’ve done your shopping and the kids are back in school. Where did you shop? Was it the Mall? Was it the designer shops? Was it the huge discount chain store places that sell cheaply made stuff for cheap prices? Will this stuff last? This year many parents faced this challenge and dodged the “cheap” stuff and opted for outlet shopping malls and great discounts on quality merchandise. Is this an answer for financially strapped parents? Is it the answer for you? Read my Technorati article before you replace those torn and worn out “bargains” you thought you found. You might be surprised.