True Love in the Meijer Parking Lot

wpid-img1422142959485.jpgThis morning started out like any other morning.  I was running late and doing the flight of the bumble bee thinking how glad I was it was finally Friday!  Climbed in the car, turned down the radio and as I sat in the morning rush hour traffic, I had my time with God.  I said my normal prayer that for the last few months I tried to remember to say at the start of every day; “Put someone in my path I can help today, or someone who can help teach me something.

The end of the day finally arrived and I found I was feeling kind of “blue”, no particular reason that I could put my finger on, just a bit lonely when I allowed myself to think of my youngest son Jarred who had just moved 5 hours away.  The weekend was here and for the first time in what seemed like three months, I had no big plans.  I was going on an inner city mission trip with the “Cheeseburgers and Jesus” team Saturday night in preparation for “Hope over Heroin” but that’s all I had planned.  When you go non-stop for weeks, sleeping only a few hours a night and your feet rarely hit the ground, a weekend that’s not full kind of feels odd.  But I had a home office that was much neglected and needed the time to work on my Youngevity business that I was trying to expand.  I was convincing myself the time alone was actually going to be a good thing.

I pulled up in front of my apartment building after work and while exhausted like I always am on Fridays, I got this urge to not go in.  To instead, turn around and go to the store to get a few things I needed instead of waiting until later in the evening which had become the norm for my Friday nights.  I turned around and headed for Meijer.  As I drove in past City BBQ which is connected to the Meijer Parking Lot, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that there was a van with a guy standing outside of it holding a sign.  At this point I’m sure I scanned and saw there were others, a mother and maybe a child, and I didn’t really focus on reading his sign because I was paying too much attention to that internal struggle that started as soon as I got near them.  I call it the “nudge” in my spirit.   (Now bear in mind, I pass people with signs asking for help often.  And while I feel bad for them, I don’t always feel led to stop.  But I’ve learned that when I do get that nudging, I better listen. Today it was time for me to stop.)

I rolled my window down and asked what they needed.  The dad said “I need gas to get my family back home.”  I replied, “Well follow me over to the gas station and I’ll put gas in your van.”  He said “Someone already did that.”  I responded “I don’t have any cash.”  He said “I don’t want cash.  I just need gas to get back to Nevada.  If you want to help you could get a gas card?”  I said “OK” and drove off.   I was still slightly convicted in my spirit to do something, but I went into the store and it didn’t take long until I started to squirrel (which is also normal for me).  I started in the shampoo aisle and I was thinking of changing brands so I needed to read a lot of labels.  Oh, but wait, I could see the flowers from there and I love flowers, I should go look at the flowers while I’m on this end of the store.  I made my way out to the flowers, got a call and a text which side tracked me a bit more, and then came back into the store and got the things I needed.  I was just about ready to check out when I saw the gift cards hanging there and got that “nudge” again.  “Remember Kris, you said you would help.”  I now wonder if I said out loud “OK God, I hear you.  I’ll help.”  Money was tight that week and I contemplated only but a moment and reasoned that a $25 gas card would be helpful and the most I could give.  I put all the groceries in the trunk of my car, drove out to City BBQ and they were not there.  “Oh well, I can keep it for myself and use it for groceries next Friday, I tried to help.”  But as I started to round the corner to turn around, there they were.  They had moved only a few hundred feet away to the Meijer parking lot where there was more room as City BBQ was starting to fill up for the dinner crowd.  I drove up and I rolled down my window, gave the father the gift card and he smiled and said “Thank You, God Bless You.” I thought I was done, home free, ready to start my weekend.   And then it happened – the “moment” – one that still brings tears to my eyes when I share this story.  I was already starting to pull away with my window still down when I heard a small voice say “Thank You” and as I looked over, it was almost as if it played out in slow motion.  There was a beautiful little girl with long dark hair sitting on the curb outside the van.  I gave her a smile and she had the sweetest, saddest brown eyes but a big smile on her face as she watched me leave.  When I connected with her, when our eyes met, that’s when I felt it.  That I needed to do more than give a gift card, I was supposed to touch this little girl somehow.

I had groceries in the car so the talking to myself started at that very moment.  “I have meat I just bought in the trunk of my car.  I have to go home and put the groceries away it’s hot out.”   I drove home and put the groceries I had away.  But I couldn’t get that little girls face out of my mind.  If anyone had walked into my apartment as I was putting the cans and boxes in the cabinets, they would have been sure I was crazy.  I was talking out loud with every item I put in its place “What am I supposed to do for her?  Why can’t I let this go?”  As I’m putting my shoes back on I’m mumbling under my breath “Really God?!?  Didn’t I just help?  What else am I supposed to do“?  I started looking through my spare bedroom where I had some toys & books that I sometimes have on hand.  Nothing seemed right.  I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, but I knew I was supposed to do something that would show God’s love for this little girl.   So I drove back to the parking lot, rolled down my window and the dad looked at me with recognition and before he could say anything I had my window down and said “Yes, I know, I was just here.  Your little girl moved me and I needed to come back.  Is there anything she needs?”  He said “We have nothing, anything is appreciated, but would you like to ask her?”  As I got out of the car I took a closer look around this time.  There was a mother holding a baby that appeared to be about 2 years old, sitting under a shade tree on the curb.  There was a jar of Apple Juice and some grapes and bananas sitting there.  The little girl was sitting in the van with the door open and was hesitant to come out.  The father spoke good English, the mother and little girls not as well. The little girls had dark skin, big dark eyes and beautiful brown hair.   The father told her to come speak to me and she cautiously got out of the car.  He told her that I wanted to know what she needed.  She was looking down and the father looked at me and said “She is ashamed that we have to do this.”  I bent down to her level and said “Jesus loves you and that’s why I’m back here.  He’s using me to help you.”  He started crying, the mom started crying and he said “We are strong believers.  Especially my little girl, she prays every day.  We have nothing but believe God will provide.  When you drove by the first time I told my daughter, “She will be back to help us”.  When you gave us the gift card and drove off she was so happy and said “Poppa you were right.  She came back!!”   I put my arms out and hugged the little girl.  He explained their story further.  They came to Ohio from Nevada for a job.  He said when he got here, the job was a lie.  They weren’t making it and needed to go back to Nevada.  That it was 2,000 miles and would take a lot of gas and they were just praying and believing God to take care of them.  I told them to stay put for a few minutes and I’d be back.  I didn’t have the extra $500 to give them that it would obviously take for gas to get from here to Nevada, but I heard that still small voice say “Just do what you can…”

I probably should have prefaced this story with the fact I had just read the book “The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson and I was excited and looking every day for a life to change.  In the book he talks about “Jabez moments” when we are asking God to use us in a mighty way sometimes what we are led to do goes against common sense, it contradicts previous life experience, it seems to disregard your feelings, training and need for security and it sets you up to look like a fool and a loser – unless God’s hand is in it.  And that’s when He shows himself mightily.   So as I go back into the store I’m asking myself “Is this a Jabez moment?  Is this where I’m supposed to say “Excuse me Meijer shoppers – I have a family in need out in the parking lot and I’m taking up a collection…”  Definitely out of my comfort zone and every opportunity to look like a total fool!   Maybe I should have?  Maybe I wasn’t quite brave enough yet and that would’ve been one of those cool moments where God’s hand was in it and it goes  viral on Facebook or Youtube and inspires others, but I didn’t feel that.  For this Jabez moment, I felt God saying, “Just do as I ask…what you can do, and I’ll take care of the rest.”  The part where I was to get out of my comfort zone comes just a bit later in this story.

I went into the store on a mission and bought peanut butter and crackers, bottled water, fruit snacks, breakfast bars and then headed to the toy aisle where I got 2 doll babies and cash back as I paid.  It wasn’t enough cash to get them completely back, but I believed Gods hand was going to be with this family.  Instead of putting the items in my car and driving to them, I felt led to wheel the cart out all the way to the end of the parking lot.  The little girl lit up when she saw me coming and had a huge smile on her face.  I gave the mom the food and money, and the little girls the dolls.  Their big brown eyes were shining and they had the biggest smiles and just kept saying “Thank You”!  The parents kept thanking me as well.  I asked if I could pray with them before I left.  This was the point where I was out of my comfort zone in my Jabez moment.  I pray often, in private and I will stand in a prayer circle, but I was only beginning to learn to witness in this way and be the one to lead prayer, publicly.  But I felt I needed to.  We stood in a small circle holding hands by their van and I prayed that others would be put in their path to help them get the rest of what they needed to make it home, that God would anoint the little girls and that they would have protection on their drive.  As we said “amen” and I was giving the girls one last hug, an older couple in a very nice truck pulled up and stopped.  Our prayer circle had caught their attention.  They got out of the truck and were going to help as well.  My work was done and it was time for the next people who were also listening to that still small voice to help get them the rest of the way home.

As I pushed the empty cart back to my car, it was 81 degrees out but I got goose bumps on my skin and a joy in my heart I can’t even begin to explain.  No longer was I lonely and blue. I felt humbled and privileged that I was used in that way.  Any pity party I may have felt like having for my Friday night consisting of grocery shopping and being alone, soon vanished into the feeling I had been given the best gift you could get.  I had a friend who doesn’t believe ask me just earlier that week, “Why do you have faith and believe in God?”  I shared a bit of my journey with them.  This is just another example of why.  That wasn’t me – that was Him working through me because I listen for His voice and asked Him to put people in my path.   And that was better than any plans I could’ve had on a Friday night!   🙂

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” – Matthew 25:40

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