Wednesday, June 20, 2007

God’s Word in a Wal-Mart

A few years ago I was standing in a Wal-Mart checkout line when I noticed something going on in the lane next to me. A young, poor looking family was rung up, but there was a problem with the check they were trying to use to pay. Their cart was full of essential things-- diapers, staple foods--$110 worth. I watched them fidget as the supervisor was called. As I stood there God spoke to me saying: “pay their bill.” Even though I knew it was probably God talking I didn’t act immediately. In fact I didn't act at all.

You might be thinking that a more likely explanation for the "pay their bill" suggestion would be a chemical problem in my brain, serious psychological problems, or perhaps just a compassionate nature. All of these are possible. But I believe it was God. When He speaks to me it can be a simple statement, a word, a verse in the Bible or something non-verbal. I don't think there is anything special that enables me to receive messages from God. I believe everyone gets these messages--the tough part is listening. I do test the messages for reasonableness--I don't totally trust my brain...

I debated the "pay their bill" suggestion; how should I do this? What should I say? Will they reject my offer? Should I just pay their bill, or ask that they pay me back at some later date? I admit I worried about giving them any information that they could use to contact me later. I did nothing.

The supervisor came and things still couldn’t be resolved. They asked the family to follow them to an area that wasn’t quite so public. The last thing I saw as I drove away was the family, sans groceries, driving out of the parking lot.

I wish I had handed the clerk my Visa, and put that $110 on my card. I hope that Wal-Mart experience was just a minor setback to that family. I struggle with the feeling that this event had a very negative impact on them. I will never know what happened.

What I do know is my disobedience blocked the best path for that day.


Jeff said...

Thanks for that post Vance. It's nice to know I'm not the only person who sometimes simply lacks the conviction to follow through on instructions that come from The Father.
It's hard to explain why this is... I struggle with the guilt after the fact. I find some comfort in the fact that God can do whatever he wants directly. He could have tweaked the electronics so the check passed. He could have materialized the food in the families pantry.
When I disobey God, I hope it's only a lost opportunity for me. It's not like God thinks "Uh-oh, Jeff blew it... What am I going to do now?"
I totally understand your worry about that family. But I also believe that they were taken care of. And starting a dialogue about this, after the fact, is a way to bring a bit of goodness out of the affair. Hopefully the rest of us will be a little more inspired next time we hear God's word; hopefully we'll take that step as a result of your sharing your experience.

Vance said...

Hi Jeff, I totally agree that God has no lack of resources. However I continue to ponder the considerable number of stories where God specifically calls out people (e.g. King Saul, Balaam) who then proceed to fail miserably. Perhaps it would have been worse otherwise.

As you say, the clear part is the urgency of our obedience.