It happened for all the wrong reasons, but isn’t that how God often works?
My husband and I got in a fight and I needed to leave the house. I burst out the front door, unlocked my car and fell into the driver’s seat. There, next to me, was the non-functioning, boxed up small appliance I needed to take back to the store before it went out of business the next week. Since I was now in my car and had nowhere else to go, this was my chance to do that.
Still in full fury, I heaved onto the main road, probably cut off a few drivers, and made my way to the store. I marched inside with my defective product, indignant “they” added to the frustration of my day by giving me the extra burden of returning this thing, and dropped the box on the Customer Service counter. “I need my money back. This doesn’t work,” I said, with all the elegance of woman on fire.
“Do you have the receipt?”
Uh-oh. Having left the house because of my anger toward the hubby, I didn’t think about the receipt as I drove off in haste. The box had already been in the car.
I fished through my wallet to see if—somehow—I might have just put it in there. No luck. I reached into the bowels of my handbag, hoping against hope it might be there. Sheesh! This was just the culmination of my day.
So what did I do?—
“What do you mean I need a receipt?!”
—The only thing I could do given my ugly mood.
“You need a receipt to return this item,” she said, as though it had been said a thousand times that day.
Undaunted, I pushed forward. “It’s obvious I got it from here.” Don’t ask me how I believed this or even if I really did. All I know was that my disgusting mood was being emptied out on this poor woman as I railed against the store policy.
I have to give her credit, though. She spoke truth in a calm, cool, collected manner to me without the hint of a sneer.
I, on the other hand, after harassing her thoroughly, turned to leave, but was stopped by the security guard at the door. “Do you have a receipt for that, ma’am.” He pointed to the boxed appliance I still possessed, due to my lack of receipt.
Who knows what I said. I believe when Jesus washed away the sin of that day, He must have washed away much of my memory of it too. I just remember the look in the security guard’s eyes when he’d obviously caught the gaze of the woman at the counter. She must have spoken volumes in seconds, communicating to him that he just better let me through.
It’s amazing how my sin can wrap around me so thick I can’t see it at all.
I got in my car and drove away. One car cut me off. I spewed some anger he or she could never have heard. Another car almost ran into me so I raised my hand in the air and screamed, “What are you trying to tell me, Lord?”
Then I noticed—sigh—I did not have my headlights on. These cars probably couldn’t even see me. I thought it was their fault they were cutting me off and now I knew it was mine!
At that moment I realized I’d been wrong in everything I had done over the past hour, even the fight with my husband. I told God, “If that same woman is at the counter tomorrow, I promise I will apologize for my abysmal behavior.” Of course, I’d planned to go early, and since this woman worked night shifts, she’d likely not be there.
So, I got home and apologized to my husband—for what, only the Holy Spirit knows now. Then I trudged back to the store the next day—appliance and receipt in hand—and walked over to the counter.
Imagine the feeling in my gut when I saw that woman there. Imagine the look on her face when she saw me.
Tears filled my eyes as I realized God had blessed me and I needed to be grateful for it. I neared the counter trying to drum up some courage and said, “I don’t know if you remember me from last night …” even though it was obvious she had, “ … but I came in here in a very bad mood and took my anger out on you. I am very sorry.”
Her eyes bugged out and her mouth dropped open. The woman behind her stared with the words “Say what?” shooting from her irises. She’d almost dropped the box she’d been carrying.
Clearly, this does not happen often because these women had no idea how to respond. That made my heart ache even more!
Finally, she spoke a thank you and helped me return my item. The other woman kept eying me like an unusual beast that needed further study as she helped another customer.
I asked if the security guard from the night before was there so I could apologize to him. She said no. Evidently, God’s penance for me was now complete. And I was blessed. Really!
You see, showing Christ to the world is not always about doing the right thing, but owning up to when you do it wrong. Acknowledging to the world your own sinfulness and need of a Savior.
Believe it or not, I think I witnessed to both those ladies behind the counter that day. Both were incredulous and both expressed immense gratitude to me—even after I’d been the one who wronged them. But somehow God took even my ugliness and turned it into His glory.
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