Wednesday, January 10, 2018

When God Ordains a Rip-off

So, Monday morning I was getting into the van to go grocery shopping when I noticed the bags of returnable cans and bottles hanging on the wall. And I thought, Oh good! I should take those in. (Because I usually only "see" them or think about returning them when I am not on my way to the store. So they just hang there, looking trashy. And I make a mental note about returning them. But I never do. So the timing was perfect on this occasion, and I tossed those bags in the van.)
The first thing I did when I got to the store was go to the recycling center and take care of my returns. Then I placed my receipts in my purse - to redeem when I paid for my groceries.

Fast forward through my shopping trip and I'm in the check-out lane.
Just like I always do, I put my bags on the belt and set my coupons on top of them - including my bottle-return slips. And just like he always does, the cashier took my coupons - including my bottle-return slips - and put them on top of the little stand by the belt, to scan after all my groceries.
I continued emptying my cart, placing things on the belt when I noticed a woman picking up a couple of slips from the floor - by the little stand where my coupons were placed. But I didn't think more of it than, Something fell, and she's picking it up.
Until the cashier said, "Oh, no! That lady just took your bottle-return slips!" And it made sense to me that the pieces of paper she was picking up were my slips which had, uh, slipped.
Their worth was all of maybe $4.50, and I wasn't about to make a fuss about it. So I shrugged it off and said it was no big deal. "She probably needs it more than I do," I replied. "Yeah," he said, "it kind of looked like she might." And that was that.
Until I was leaving the store and started thinking about the situation again. When I began wondering about the woman who took those bottle-return slips. What is her circumstance? How desperate is she feeling? Does she have a place to live? Food to eat? Then I started wondering, and hoping, Did she find herself at the end of hope this morning? Did she ask God to provide? Might God have blown those bottle-return slips onto the floor so she would see them and pick them up? Could it be that He is using this little circumstance to give her hope?
I mean, I know $4.50 isn't much and I don't want to over-spiritualize things. But everything was orchestrated so perfectly - that I would remember to take the bottles and cans back today, that I would be in the check-out lane and the bottle slips would fall to the floor at the same time she was walking by, that she would have the courage to pick them up and I would be distracted enough to not really care. And that Monday morning I asked God again to take me to the places He wanted me to go, and do through me the things He wanted to do. The more I thought about it, the more I couldn't deny God's fingerprints.

So now I am praying for this woman I do not know, for a circumstance I do not know, to a God I do know. I am asking Him to provide for her - not only materially, but also with hope. Because I fully believe God ordained that rip-off exchange at the store. She got $4.50, and I got the call to pray.
And if God is at work, I want to be part of it!


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