I had an interesting life experience on Sunday. I had gone to lunch with my friend, Kristan, after church. (Of course, we had the kids but that doesn't really figure into the story much.)We had lunch and then we wandered over to Target because, for the life of me, I can't remember a time when I don't have something that I need from Target! We were not in there for very long before I had gotten everything I "needed" and we headed to the check-out. I, of course, picked the longer of the two lines that was available and so we were standing there chatting while we waited. Kristan commented to me that it seemed no was subscribing to social standards for attire anymore. She then mentioned a woman she had seen early with a gigantic hole in her jeans (I, too, had seen someone earlier with a significant gap in her pants) and then nodded towards a guy in the next lane to further prove her point. He had on no shirt!
Now, I don't think Target has a "No shoes, no shirt, no service" sign posted, but you just figure everyone functions under that assumption. Well, not this person! And I mean, it is not like we are at the gas station, and it was a nice day, but only about 65 degrees. So, because I always have to know the most about what is going on, I leaned over a little to figure out what he was buying. Shirts. Okay, so he does realize he is violating societal norms! Well, I continue with my purchase and am loading my cart when I realize all is not going so smoothly with Shirtless Guy. He has opened the package of shirts (a four pack of tank-tops) and was about to put one on, when the cashier says to him, " ummm, it was $9.73..." . The way he left his sentence hanging made me think that the guy didn't have enough cash. So for almost a whole minute everyone in both check-out lanes just stands there. Altogether, there was probably about 12 people, including the group of 4 teenage guys standing in Shirtless Guy's lane, who of course are heartlessly gawking.
Well, I quickly realized that this uncomfortable situation needed a speedy resolution. I assumed that the man probably needed the $0.73 and I had cash (believe me, that is a miracle in and of itself!) so I stepped over and asked the cashier, "How much does he need?" with my wallet in hand. This is where it gets tricky. The cashier eyes me and replies incredously, "He needs $9.73!" That is when I discovered that Shirtless Guy's debit card had been declined. He, for obvious reasons, is not making eye contact with me. I kind of felt like everyone else was waiting for me to say something and dismiss myself. Instead, and I know this had to have been the Lord, I pulled out the cash and paid for the guy's shirts. As I am paying, he mumbles, "Thank you" to me. The cashier hands me my change, obviously confused. I turned to leave feeling that I could do no further good (or harm, as the case may be) and as he walks past me, the guy (now clothed and in his right mind), again says, "Thanks, mam".
I would love to say that I took this opportunity to share the Gospel, or at least mumbled back, "God made me do it.". But alas, I did not do anything of the sort. I just smiled and told him he was welcome. After we left the store I pondered the meaning of the situation. Why had God placed me there? Why did I do what I did? Did I do the right thing? Why didn't the guy know he didn't have any money? Why, most importantly, did the guy not have on a shirt?! I thought, perhaps, this had happened so that I could minister to the guy. But then I realized something. I think it happened so that the Lord could minister to me. I don't know whether or not the guy was "worthy" of me buying him a shirt. More than likely, he just didn't know how to balance a check-book. Who knows why he needed a shirt. But no matter the reason he couldn't cover his debt.He needed someone else to pay the price for him. Sound familiar?
We all have a debt we can't cover. It is called sin. The Lord doesn't ask us why we have mishandled our spiritual "finances". Some of us owe $9.73 and some of us owe $10 million. Regardless of the amount, none of us can pay. We are standing in the check-out of life, dumbfounded that what we have won't fill the bill. We don't know where to turn, and then comes our Savior, wallet in hand. Now, I am definitely NOT saying that I am comparable to Jesus. I just realized that He had paid my debt without question, and with His life! He didn't ask me to reimburse Him, He didn't ask for my thanks. He did it because He loves me. That is the real difference between these stories. I don't love that guy, I don't even know him. I did it because Someone loved me enough to lay down His life for me. Enough that I want to give to others.
I know that is all kind of crazy. I am really beginning to see that everything in my life is an opportunity for the Lord to teach me. But I am not thankful enough for my precious salvation. I want to work every day to say "Thank You". I can't repay Him, but I can tell Him I honor His sacrifice. Nothing says it better than that great old song:
"Jesus paid it all,
all to Him I owe,
sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow."