Once again, as I post today’s Reach Out story, tears sting my eyes. Oh, the beauty of love and grace poured out through God’s children to those in need. Obedience isn’t always easy or comfortable, but I have a feeling Julie Arduini would tell you, it is always, always so worth it.
But before you run to grab your tissue, I wanted to announce last month’s winners. Diana Brandmeyer won September’s Reach Out gift basket with her touching story, Silver Streets. And Judy Burgi won a copy of Tapestry of Trust by Mary Annslee Urban. (Ladies, I’ll be contacting you shortly to get your gift/s to you.)
Stretched to Overflowing by Julie Arduini
You’ve heard the saying, “Be careful what you ask for, because you’re going to get it?”
Well, it took God less than 48 hours after I asked Him to grow me for Him to act on it. A mentor challenged me to step out of my comfort zone where I pray and encourage people I already know. She asked me to pray and believe God would orchestrate opportunities for me to serve Him to a stranger.
As soon as I heard the woman behind me in the grocery line, I knew it was time to step up.
“I’m sorry, kids. I only have $40, and that’s for these groceries and the medicine we have to get. There isn’t money for extras.” The mom counted her single bills and glanced every few seconds at her items.
“Not even for this?” A girl who looked to be about my daughter’s age at the time, about six, waved a chocolate bar.
Lord, do you want me to buy the child a candy bar? I can do that.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. We can’t get anything more, not even that.” The mom kept sizing up her items as they moved forward on the conveyor belt.
The child didn’t even pout. She put the candy back and stayed at her mom’s side.
No, my child. I want you to pay for all her groceries.
I scanned the entire conveyor belt. How much would my things plus hers cost? This was a little trip for things we didn’t find during our weekly trip. We were near the budget, and my husband kept a good handle on finances. I didn’t want to disrespect him.
But I knew by ignoring God’s offer to grow me through paying for her groceries would disrespect my Heavenly Father.
The mom thought aloud as the cashier started ringing up my order. “I know last time we got that prescription it was $15. I think with these things plus tax, I’m spending $24…”
I pivoted enough to see her items. There was nothing frivolous. She had grocery staples, the basics to keep a family fed.
“That’s $16.35.” The cashier smiled.
I slid my check card out of my wallet and started the electronic transaction. As I waited on financial approval, I closed my eyes and prayed for strength. I could speak in front of a thousand without fear. Yet trying to find the courage to pay for someone’s groceries was inciting sweat throughout my body in the dead of winter.
“Thank you. Have a great day.” The cashier handed me my slip, but I stood still.
“Wait.” I turned toward the woman next to me. “I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, but I’d like to pay for your groceries.”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, no. You don’t have to. I have enough.”
“I know you do. I don’t have to, I want to. Really.”
Tears spilled over and fell on the belt. “Thank you. This is such a surprise. A gift. Bless you.”
I looked at the little girl. “If it is okay with your mom, you can get the candy bar, too.”
The mom nodded.
The cashier started ringing her out. “I’ve never seen anyone do that before.”
I smiled. “I’ve never done it before, either. It feels good. Really good.”
My fear returned on the drive home, fearful that I went over the weekly grocery budget. I confessed what happened to my husband, who broke into a grin.
“Honey, I know spontaneous things are not natural for you, and that you fear spending money. You’ve never been reckless; I probably put too much pressure on you when you shop. Of all the wonderful things you’ve done to encourage others, this is my favorite one of all.”
Julie Aduini is a writer and speaker. Her passion is to encourage audiences to find freedom through surrender. Whether you read her blog on the front page of her website, check out her writing, speaking, bookshelves, interests, or the free gifts she has for you, you will find a surrender theme. One of my surrender stories is M&M’s for breakfast so you know I also have a love for chocolate.
Visit her online. She invites you to grab a piece of chocolate, sit down with a mocha, and stay as long as you like.
And before you go, I leave you with a verse and a thought. It’s often said you can never out-give God. Our family has found this true again and again. When we give–whether of our plenty or our few, God takes care of our needs. This doesn’t mean He’ll gift us a mansion on a hill, but it does mean He’ll provide for us. This enables us to serve and obey God fully, without fear.
I’d love to hear from you. Has God ever asked you to give to someone when your own finances were tight? What happened? Or maybe you are the one in need. Can you share a time when God used someone else to provide for you financially? I think the giving is easier than the receiving, but receiving God’s gifts and provisions come easier when we remember they are just that–gifts and provisions from God. He owns everything, and He can distribute His abundance as He wills. If you ever find yourself on the receiving end, before your spurn your gift consider how receiving it could bless the giver by allowing them to experience God working and loving through them.
And the next time you see someone in need, don’t let your pocket book overshadow your view of God’s power and blessings.