Friday, July 27, 2007
Waited For An Angel Lately?
Around eleven years ago, during the days when I finally started letting God deal with me about some lifelong issues, I told God, "I'd love to jump into this 'random acts of kindness' thing. Like, if someone in the supermarket check-out lane runs short of cash, I want to be un-shy enough to hand them the money for their bill. And stuff like that."
So, many weeks later, there I was in the check-out lane right behind a Goth-like teenager whose friends were waiting for him outside the glass doors. He searched for the extra change he needed for his tiny pack of cookies and chocolate milk as the checker lady stood there with an impatient face. Well, bam! I realized I should give him the change he needed, but oh my... I didn't know what to say. I was frightened I'd say the wrong thing, afraid I'd ask the wrong way or stumble over my words, or stutter, lisp.....yada...yada...yada...
Pathetic, I know. So I did nothing and the poor kid had to leave the chocolate milk behind. I felt horrible. For days.
I walked out of the store very upset with myself and even--yes--with God. A little, anyway. I mean, why hadn't He given me this great electric surge of courage? I'd been so much bolder in recent months, what had gone wrong back in the check-out lane? Why hadn't I automatically known what to do, especially since weeks ago I'd asked for this opportunity?
I mean, what had I expected to happen? Had I expected the checker lady and the kid to both turn to me, simultaneously in slow-motion, and ask, "Do you have some spare change?" Was I waiting for angels to appear, lift my arm, and miraculously find my hand full of change and heading toward the boy as if by magic? Had I expected God to literally speak through me with the correct words?
Lessons learned.....lessons learned... I asked God for another chance to come to the rescue in the check-out lane, but there's never been that exact chance again. Although, He's had me do other little things for folks while waiting to pay for my groceries--offers of prayer, a listening ear, the giving of sympathy and understanding and, when asked for it, advice. But not the spare change thing. Not yet.
Anyway, I said all that to make this point. Sometimes it scares me how much responsibility God gives me. Us. How sometimes we might miss a once in a lifetime chance just because we weren't listening to Him... or obeying Him. Because we weren't in the right place at the right time due solely to the fact we lagged behind Him. Or because we were waiting for angels and trumpet blasts and golden twinkling lights to give us a nudge.
Even now, with this possible move to Richmond... or how we are nearing the time Tom really should retire from the power plant and find something less strenuous (and the need to prepare for that now, not later)... and should we do all that now and use our retirement fund which is largely in the stock market, (401K and all that), and with the stock market being what it is (and how I don't have much faith in it for the future)... How his back is not getting stronger or straighter, nor his polio-ed leg any straighter or stronger, either.... and how much longer can he work twelve hours and collapse in his recliner? All of those kinds of decisions are before us right now and I so do not want to mess them up by waiting for angels to come swooping down with banners waving with precise, in black-and-white instructions in lovely calligraphy...
... or even just waiting for mysterious-but-wise men in suits to walk around the corner and tell us exactly what we should do.
It's that still, small voice and the obedience to it... It's that daily, step-by-step walk which tends to be oh so quiet, but oh so vital... it's all that which will always matter the most. And it's that kind of responsibility which, some days, blows me away.