Late yesterday afternoon, as the sun was well on its way to the evening horizon, my wife and I did something very ordinary. We went to the local Walmart to get some groceries and thermal underwear. In this case, with our tropically thinned blood being assaulted by the blast of Canadian artic air currently sweeping through North Carolina, the groceries were the luxury, and long underwear the necessity.
In the midst of our ordinary day and our somewhat usual routine, something rather extraordinary happened to us. It happened right in front of us, actually. As we were checking out, I think we met an angel. This is how it happened. I was at the front of the shopping cart unloading it onto the conveyor belt that moved the items to the scanner/cash register while Jennifer stood behind the cart and sifted through the vast caverns of her purse in search of her wallet. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a diminutive elderly lady come behind us in line, pushing a shopping cart that contained a few small items. She began to speak with Jennifer in a soft, almost retreating voice. Thinking she was simply being friendly, I ‘leaned in’ to hear what she was saying. As I heard it, she quietly asked if we would buy the few items in her cart to feed the ladies at the women’s shelter at which she served. Jennifer looked over at me and, not being sure if I was within earshot of the conversation, said, “James, what do you think?” To be sure I understood, I inquired as to the request. The little lady seemed bashful, not wanting to be overheard by the cashier or the manager who stood close by. So, my Jennifer said, “she is asking if we would buy these items for the women’s shelter.” I looked in her cart and, seeing just a few things, said, “Sure.” I instructed the cashier to add the ladies’ items to our total but to bag them separately for her to take. The cashier did so.
With a gentle almost quivering voice and a grateful gaze that lifted from the floor for just a moment, she took the bag of items in her hand and said, “Thank you, Sir. God bless you, Sir.” Then, she quietly slipped away.
As Jennifer and I began our trek to the car, weaving our way in and out of the traffic both in the store and parking lot, we mentioned how sweet it was to help such a one as this. But, as the hours passed and I reflected on the moment, the encounter seemed increasingly meaningful and full of glory.
I wondered if our little angel came to the store with nothing but her hunger and a hope in the kindness of God. I imagined her walking around the store prayerfully selecting a few items to feed the women in the shelter. I wondered if, as she took each package from the shelf and placed it in her cart, she whispered a prayer that her precious Lord Jesus would provide a way to pay for it. I wondered if, as she pushed the cart toward the check out line, she whispered a prayer that God would open someone’s heart to give a little food to the poor. I wondered if her faith ever shook as she approached the cashier with nothing in her hand but her need. I wondered if she prayed that God would somehow, in someway, make the impossible, possible, once again. She must have.
She must have had a simple, sincere and powerful faith in Jesus, the faithful one. I even wonder if Jesus whispered to her, these two are mine – they will help.
At the end of the day, we were so very glad she came to us with her need. The scripture says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” We felt incredibly blessed by this precious woman. She did more for us than we could have ever done for her. She helped us see the tender beauty of a simple faith in Jesus. She, in her vulnerability and trust, gave us a picture of how Jesus cares for us and that her Heavenly Father knows the way her tummy sounds when it growls with hunger. Her caring heart, her simple faith, and her total lack of pride spoke peace and encouragement to us. What a beautiful woman she was! We thank God for the encouragement of faith and the reminder of God’s loving care for all of His children.
And, in case you are wondering what was in her cart (and it didn’t hit me until the next morning), she had a small bottle of Crisco oil, a loaf of bread and some frozen fish. She had chosen loaves and fishes to feed the hungry women, trusting that Jesus would, once again, perform a miracle. And, He did. Praise Him!
Matthew 15:34,38 “And Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’ And they said, ‘Seven and few small fish...and those who ate were four thousand men, along with women and children…’”