When God Shows Up on the Way to Old Navy

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I originally guest blogged this post for my friend Stephanie over at A Wide Mercy.

Here is the post in full...

When Stephanie asked me to write a blog about taking a leap of faith, I about fell out of my chair. If she had asked me even the week before, I would have had plenty to tell. Three months ago, my husband and I moved 2,000 miles with two toddlers and no job in sight. However, at this moment, I knew exactly what God was telling me to write, and that wasn’t it. 

I had two hours of free time. FREE time. Child-free time. And, this just about never ever happens for me. My husband had just that morning received an official offer of a job that we’d been praying about for months, so I was feeling on top of the world that afternoon. Our journey of unemployment had come to a sudden halt, and I was ready to celebrate. The relief of having a couple hours to myself brought on the most delicious of problems: What shall I do with my time?

It took me about two seconds to decide to go shopping. As any mother knows, the freedom to try on clothes at your leisure without someone griping at you and pulling on your arms is a gift unlike any other. This mama was SET on some seriously selfish time to go blow some cash on a new dress! Woohoo! Old Navy, here I come!

I walked out the door, confident and totally full of myself. I couldn’t remember the last time I had gone out by myself without an errand like “remember diapers” or “stop for milk” attached to it in some way. I was thrilled with the notion of escape and ready to appease my inner bargain hunter with some new duds.

As I took my exit, I saw her. A woman around my age, sweaty and in clothes much too small for her. She held a cardboard sign which read, “Please help. Need diapers. God bless.”  My heart sunk at the thought of who those diapers must be for, and I reached over and as I shuffled my hand around my purse, I realized I had no cash on me. Traffic progressed forward, and so did I. I turned and said a quick prayer for her. Poor thing. That must be rough. But, who knows, maybe she’s not even telling the truth. She probably just wants money. She probably doesn’t even have a kid.

I turned onto the road toward Old Navy and came to a stop sign. I could see the store in the distance, calling to me with the empty promises of consumerism that will fulfill my every insecurity. And then – GOD SPOKE. (How do I know it was God? Because I know myself pretty well, and I would never tell myself this. I wanted a new dress, after all).  God said, “Are you sure you want to go buy a new dress you don’t need when you live in a world where someone is asking you for diapers?” 

I rolled my eyes. I sat at the stop sign a full minute. I sighed and made a deal. Ok, God. I will go all the way back around. But, if she’s not there, then I’m coming back for that dress. Okay? I’m pretty sure this is when God rolled His eyes at me too.

I didn’t just turn around. Remember, she was at an EXIT. So, I had to literally drive another mile, do a u-turn, and then flip my hazards on and pull up to the corner where the exit let out. The whole way I was making excuses. God, seriously? Look how much trouble this is! I’m holding up traffic! I’m taking so long, she probably won’t even be there anymore! She was.She ran up, and I rolled down my window. And all of a sudden she was a real human, staring me in the face. She had a name. And a daughter. And a need.

I told her I would run to Target, that I had some things to get anyway, and could she meet me over at that parking lot by the bank in about an hour? She could.

I went into Target with a weird nervousness. I was on a mission, and it had nothing to do with me. God spoke, I listened, and now He was providing. You’d think this would have hit me in the face earlier in the day when we had been given the gift of a new job after three months of unemployment. Indeed, we were struck with gratitude for God’s provision…and there I was, ready to go blow it at Old Navy. Instead, I was blessed with the new opportunity to pass it on, pay it forward, and spread the love that had been shown to me just as readily. What’s more? When God tells you to do something and you do it, He makes it easy on you. The diapers that she needed were on clearance that day – go figure. So, I got her the BIG box, and I didn’t stop there.

I don’t just serve the God who meets needs. I serve the God that goes above and beyond…and that’s who I needed to reflect. I picked up a little stuffed animal for her daughter, and a small book of bedtime prayers with real verses inside.  I got some water and healthy snacks for them, and some nutritious toddler food as well. I didn’t know what to get, and it really didn’t matter. I just prayed, and purchased, and packed my trunk in the name of Jesus.She found me in the parking lot where I met her daughter and two male friends. I have no idea who these people are…but, I know God, and I know He doesn’t make mistakes when He creates life. 

I handed them the Target bags and they were incredible grateful.  And then, I told them my  story. I told them all how God had just blessed my family with a new job and that’s exactly why I’m able to be used to bless them now. I told them God cares, and it’s not easy out there.  I’m so sorry that you’re going through this rough time, but this is not the end of your story. And, then, I prayed for them. OUT LOUD and in the name of Jesus Christ. I prayed for their protection, their provision, and that they would be encouraged and dependent on Jesus alone to provide a way for them to be able to bless someone in return very soon.

I reached out, I looked them all in the eyes, I hugged the little girl and put my hands on the shoulders of the mother. I was human with them. WITH them.

And then, I got in my car and drove home to my girls and my shelter and my belongings I don’t deserve. I repented from my selfishness and thanked God for the opportunity to be part of something that made a tangible difference and reminded me of my ongoing need for Him alone. I thanked Him not only for His provision, but also His graciousness in overlooking my doubt and utilizing my stubbornness and turning it into ACTION.

Opportunities are everywhere. I’m amazed at what God places in front of us when we just start to ask Him to show us. Sometimes it is scary. It almost NEVER makes any sense at the time. We can almost ALWAYS justify a way out of it. But, when I put myself out there and make myself available to His work, taking action becomes the easy part.

A leap of faith doesn’t have to look like abandoning security and traveling 2,000 miles with two toddlers.Sometimes it looks like a trip to Target where you find diapers on clearance. Look out. Look around. 

You’re right in the middle of your next chance to act.

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