My first blessing of 2010 came Thursday…a day early. I stopped by CVS to grab a soft drink for my niece and almost headed right back out the door. The lines were so long at the registers! Everyone had bottles of liquor or cases of beer and I overheard one customer ask, “Do you not have ANYTHING priced right in this store?”
Not wanting to make an extra stop, I started down the aisle towards section where the soft drinks were. Coming toward me, at a Tim Conway shuffle pace (have to be my age or older to appreciate that one) was an elderly man, carrying a shopping basket in one hand and a case of beer in the other. I could tell he was winded and as we met up, I asked him if I could carry the case of beer for him. At first, he pulled it closer and said very loudly, “No, I’m planning on buying this!”
I smiled and reassured him that I didn’t want it, I just wanted to carry it for him. He looked at me for a few minutes without saying a word. Then he raised the case just enough to indicate that I could take it from him. As I turned to walk with him to the register, he told me that he was a Vietnam vet and had suffered two strokes, the most recent in the spring. He also told me that his wife had died recently and that things weren’t so good in his life. I didn’t say a word, just let him talk. It took several minutes to get to the back of the line and by then, the lines had shortened some what.
As we stood in line, he asked if I was going to carry his beer to his car after he paid for it. I smiled and told him that was my plan. We stood there for ten minutes or so, waiting for the other customers to check out. The man looked at a man another line who had several bottles of liquor and finally smiled…”looks like a party at his house tonight,” he said. “I’m having a party,” he told me, “a party of two. Got this beer for me and some canned dog food for my dog.”
He told me that because of his income, the dog usually gets dry food and he rarely buys beer, but that this month, he saved so they could have a treat. “Gotta bring in the New Year right; maybe this will be a better one!”
The customer in front of us had heard our conversation…I’m sure several people had, because he was speaking so loudly…and as she was finishing up, she asked if I would like to set the case on the counter. It was pretty heavy, so I thanked her and set it down. As soon as I did, the man asked me again, “Are you still gonna carry that to my car?” I assured him that I was and stepped back so he could set his basket on the counter and pay for his items.
The customer asked me if I was with him or just helping out. I told her I was just helping and she said, “I’m headed out and I could carry that out for him so you can go ahead and shop.”
I started to say no, wanting to finish what I had told him I would do, but a voice in my head said, let her do it!
I thanked her and laid my hand on the man’s arm to tell him goodbye. He was busy talking with the clerk and so I just turned to go get the soda I came in for. The customer grabbed my arm and said, “Thanks for what you did…I guess no matter how bad we have it, there is always someone out there a little worse off.”
As I walked away, I heard the man ask where I was and the lady explaining that she offered to carry it out while I shopped. The last thing I heard him say was, “But I didn’t get a chance to thank her.”
As I sit here now and think about it, I wonder, how many people like that man do I pass by everyday? People who need a smile, a helping hand, or who would like a chance to help out, but maybe need encouragement to do so. I’m reminded of Peter and the disciples at the last supper. None of them took the initiative to wash the others feet. Jesus had to get up and wash their feet, to remind them that he came to serve and that they should do likewise for the people they meet, so that through them, they would know Jesus.
As the new year rolls in, where will you find opportunities to serve? And, will you afford others the joy of serving you? Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve wholeheartedly as if you were serving the Lord, not men.” Whether you serve or allow others to serve you, you will be blessed. Let the love of Christ shine through you so that those you come in contact with will know Christ because of you.