Maybe it was learning that it was okay to do for one what I would like to do for everyone. Maybe it was understanding a bit more how luxurious it really is to buy groceries in a beautiful supermarket. Maybe it was realizing how hard this time of year is for many people. Maybe it was a result of reading one too many life-changing books. Maybe it was simply the Holy Spirit speaking to me as I drove down the freeway. Whatever it was (and isn’t it likely that God was using all of these things to speak to my heart?), it stirred something deep within me that evening.
It all happened several months ago as I was heading out to do some grocery shopping (okay, I really have gone since then too, contrary to what my kids may think), nothing too earth-shattering, to be sure. I was driving along quite unsuspecting when I got to thinking about how I had heard a story about how people would anonymously do something for someone else. That got me to thinking about how much fun it would be to pay for someone’s groceries at the checkout, although it would be hard to remain anonymous in the process. I immediately knew that the folk who shopped at the store I was headed to were probably not living paycheck to paycheck so maybe this was not what God was asking me to do.
But…. and then I started getting shaky.
But what I COULD do was buy a bag of groceries and leave them on someone’s porch – anonymously. And wouldn’t you know, I instantly got this certain house in mind in another part of town and I knew that was where I was supposed to take those groceries. Now, I have no idea who lives in this house, I just know they are not wealthy by any stretch.
So I got to the store and proceeded to get the things I had on my list, thinking that if I still felt this strong urge to do this after I was through that I would go back around and get enough to fill a paper bag heaping full of food. I don’t know, maybe I was bargaining with God a little bit – you know, if I still feel this way in fifteen minutes, THEN I’ll do it. If you (God) really want me to do this, then make the stuff just fall into my cart. If you don’t really want me to do this, then let my husband not be okay with it. And so forth and so on. I mean really, how weird is this? Who does this?! Is this normal?
Fifteen minutes later, you guessed it – the conviction was stronger than ever. I started praying like crazy that God would show me what to put in the cart from there on. I went back to the front of the store and started in the produce section, then added some peanut butter, meat, eggs, bread – and cookies to let them know I’m not a total health freak – then stopped by the card rack to find a card to go with the whole thing. I found a blank one with plenty of room to write lots of stuff (or not too much if I wrote in big letters) and headed to the checkout. I tried to get the bag boy to put everything in one paper bag but he was like “There is no way that will all go in this bag” so I said it was fine to put it in two. When I got to my car, I pulled everything back out and repackaged it and it all fit beautifully into one bag, with stuff peeking out the top like it does in the movies when gorgeous French women come home from their daily shopping trip to the little fresh market down the street, so yes, I was totally fantasizing that I was beautiful AND French, just for a little bit. But I digress.
Then for the card. What to write to someone I don’t know? I sat there for a while and because my hand was shaking and because I didn’t want to have to say TOO much, I wrote too big and too fast. I can’t remember what I wrote exactly except that God loved them and that if they had any questions about God they should call this 800 number that I included – goodness, I hope the number worked if they tried it, because I’ve never called that number even to this day! Maybe I SHOULD call that number because sometimes I have a lot of questions about God.
And then I took off out of the parking lot of that store, the image of this certain house burned into my brain. But on the way there, just to be sure, I drove up and down several other streets, thinking that maybe one would jump out and say “It’s me, this one!” but it didn’t happen. So I drove by this house that I knew was it, pulled off to where I hoped no one would see me and somehow I ran that bag of groceries with the note on top over there and left it by the door whereby I had seen someone leave only moments earlier so I was assured that the “someone” would surely be back and see the bag that very night.
I drove away, praying over that bag of groceries and over that house and over the people who live in that house, trusting that whatever God was doing was far beyond anything I could figure out.
What I learned was that this whole experience was far more about what God was teaching me than it was about meeting the needs of the people who God put on my heart that night. I hope I learned something about hearing the voice of God and walking in obedience to that voice. I say all this, not to say what I have done, but to tell you what God has been speaking to me and teaching me. I learned that we are not responsible for the outcome, but we are responsible to do what He asks us to do. I have no idea if the folks who live in that house ever even got the bag of groceries or if some stray dog had an especially good meal that night, but I do know that I was obedient to God and that I was stretched pretty good for one day. I’m thinking this was probably not the best way to go about helping someone, but God used it to do something of His work in me. Hopefully it will give me courage the next time God asks me to do something outside of my comfort zone – and I have a feeling it might be coming up fairly quickly.