I loved this devo by Gail Pallotta, posted on her blog on July 11th, because it reminded me of my life’s purpose. I was created to be an image bearer and a spark-ignitor. God’s desire is that people will see the love and joy in a Christian’s life and be drawn to the Joy-giver. And before I post Gail’s article, I’ll share a brief tie-in story. Over the Thanksgiving holiday my husband and I received a tax notice, with 30 days to respond. Needless to say, it freaked me out. Especially since I don’t know the first thing about taxes. Turned out, our accountant had forgotten to file a form (out of the plethora the IRS requires.) Only problem? Our accountant is seasonal and was unavailable. So, I tried to figure out the form myself. It was like reading Greek. So I called the city (where the form originated.) and was put on hold for an hour and a half. This got me nowhere, so I left a message. Then called our tax company to see if they could squeeze me in, ASAP, with another accountant.

The one day they had openings? Yesterday, when my schedule was already jam-packed. So, I cleared out an hour in my evening, left my family with a frozen pizza and headed to the tax office–not our normal office, but the headquarters, the only office open during off-season.

I got lost. Partially because I was on the phone with my dear friend Robin Prater, and partially because it was dark and I couldn’t see the street signs. When I got there, the accountant I was scheduled to see was behind, turning my quick visit into an extended stay. Sitting there fuming in my anxiety, frustrated with the time delay, and anxious to get home, I was given a choice: give into my sinful nature and make myself and the accountant miserable, or die to self and demonstrate the love and grace of Christ. Thank goodness God gave me an extra little dose of the Holy Spirit, because I chose the latter. Come to find out, the accountant’s mother had died the previous year, and this was her first holiday without her. And, it appeared she needed a friendly, non-judgmental, person to share with. When she finished sharing, I expressed my condolences and offered her a business card directing her to this blog where I hoped she’d get an extra dash of love. I shudder to think what pain I might have caused this poor dear woman had I given into my frustration.

So how does this relate to Gail’s article? Read it, then I’ll explain:

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My daughter and I love to bargain shop. But we browse more than we buy. Many times after we get inside a store and go to a particular display, we’re the only two people there. We pick up items and discuss them. If we really get interested in something, whether it’s clothing, cosmetics, accessories or gifts and books, we study it. If it’s a book, we make sure the print, pages and binding are intact. If it’s jewelry, and it’s supposed to have a necklace and earrings, we look to see if it has both. But this isn’t a piece about how to bargain shop.

Usually after we’ve been at a station for a while people flock around us. Then it’s extremely difficult to get to the merchandise. My daughter always asks, “Why is no one interested in this stuff until we start looking at it?”

I say, “I don’t know. Let’s look somewhere else, and they’ll leave in a little bit.”

One day my daughter complained to one of her friends about people in the stores rooting us out of our territory. Her friend said, “You probably appear very intense, so they think you’re looking at something of value. They want to make sure they don’t miss out.”

“Hmmm,” my daughter said, “I’d never thought of it that way.”

Later when I talked to her on the phone she said, “Mom, now I know why people run us away from the merchandise we’re trying to look at when we’re shopping.” Then, she told me about the conversation she had with her friend.

After I hung up the phone I asked myself, what if we were that intense over our worship and role as Christians?

John 13: 35, “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Matthew 28: 19, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”

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This holiday season, you are going to be given numerous chances to make the same choice I did last night. Maybe like Gail and her daughter, you’ll find yourself surrounded by bargain-hungry shoppers, jabbing impatient elbows into your sides and invading your peaceful perusal. Or, perhaps you’ll find yourself stuck behind a monstrous line, or someone will cut you off on the freeway. In those moments when selfishness threatens to rear its ugly head, you can either be a people-repeller or people-attracter. And on those days when the choice is hard, think ahead to eternity and remember what’s at stake. Kinda makes the choice a tad bit easier, doesn’t it.

Now you have a chance to help determine the top three posts for 2010. Every tweet, fb share, like and comment counts. If you liked Gail’s article, share it, tweet it, leave a comment, or “like” it. (And show her your support by visiting her blog. I guarantee you’ll be blessed.) Then at the end of our top 20 of 2010, I’ll tally up all the “votes” and reveal the top three.

A bit about Gail and her Clash of the Titles winning novel, Love Turns the Tide: 

After writing articles for years Gail recently published her first Christian romance, Love Turns the Tide. This fall an excerpt from that book won the internet Clash of the Titles contest. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. Her husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with the cashier’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. In her spare time she likes to bargain shop with her daughter.  Sometimes they try on garments so wrong for them, they laugh for fifteen minutes. When they finally find a treasure, they’re so pleased. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. She and Rick live in Georgia. Find out more about Gail and her writing at her personal blog, Peering Through Life’s Window, and her website, www.gailpallotta.com.

Love Turns the Tide:

Shattered by a failed romance and challenged by a new job, feature writer Cammie O’Shea dreads meeting Bill Collins, editor of The Sun Dial, a new newspaper in Destin, Florida. Still in pain from her heartbreaking split-up, she wants no new relationships. That’s why Vic Deleona turns out to be her real source of angst. She must interview the real estate developer to help get the paper off its feet. He thwarts her efforts to complete his article, arranges extra meetings and attempts to court her. She resists his advances. But mysterious break-ins occur at Cammie and her friend’s condos. When Cammie and Vic launch their own investigation into the vandalism, Cammie grows fond of him. In the midst of the confusion she gets an opportunity to return home to her old job. Will Vic solve the crimes and win Cammie’s heart or will she leave Destin?