Lessons Learned at the Supermarket Checkout

I went grocery shopping at 9 p.m. last night.  Call me crazy but since the schools have released their young inhabitants, I do not wish to go accompanied by “helpers.”  This is especially the case when I need to be on my game.  Armed with $60 worth of coupons that I intended to use, I needed my full capacity.  The stakes were just too high.

I meandered around the store, taking time to stop and smell the doughnuts.  This time when I forgot something a couple rows back, I didn’t mind so much.  I easily made my way back and forth between the aisles without a Strawberry attempting to bungee jump from her seat in the cart or a Sour Patch Kid taking every sweet treat off the shelves and asking me, “Can we get this?”  Heavenly for a bags-under-the-eyes-tired mom.

It was around 10:30 by the time I strolled my heavy-laden cart up to the checkout.  A cashier was swiping and bagging groceries with no customer in sight.  I gave it not much of a thought and began to load my goods on the conveyor.  I barely noticed the customer, a middle-aged woman, come back to where I was busily organizing my bounty into like-groups:  meats over here;  produce over there; a section for boxed goods, frozen foods and chemical-ly products.  And then, out of the corner of my eye I saw her rifling through her purse and out came the words,

I forgot my wallet.

The four dreaded words that I myself have spoken in the past.  First comes the dread, then the panic, then the embarrassment and finally the sheer defeat.  So much work for nothing or maybe an unplanned run home to retrieve the missing culprit. 

My heart felt for this poor woman, no doubt getting groceries at such a late hour because her life, like mine, necessitated it.  But then I heard Him whisper,

Pay the bill.

I looked at the total.  $115 and change.  Oh, Lord.  Not a small chunk of change for a family of 5 and living on a teacher’s salary.  And with this very day’s  impending doom of Honeybun losing his summer work and the several thousand dollars we counted on.   Oh, Lord.  More than I normally spend in a week and not to mention the work I put into carefully planning my trip, clipping coupons and attempting to save every last penny.  Oh, Lord.

And in an instant she was gone.  Back home to fetch the misplaced wallet. 

How many times did I play this very scenario in my head, swearing I’d do the right thing.  But when the opportunity found me, it found me wavering.  Oh, Lord.

The cashier rung up my order, swiped my coupons and bagged my paid-for groceries.  I had saved myself $118.12 when every last sale price was tabulated and every last coupon scanned.  My work had more than made up for her bill.

My heart hurt as I loaded my crinkling plastic bags into the back of the van.  I knew I had disobeyed.  My head started rattling off excuses again but then I stopped and asked myself that oft-mocked question,

What would Jesus do?

And then I knew for sure.  He would have paid.  Oh, how He would have.  And not only would He have paid but He’d have thrown a few checkout lane candy bars on the belt for good measure.

Was He ever stingy?  No.  He gave time.  Just ask the multitudes that vied for His attention, who followed Him across countryside and seas.  He was tired, but He gave.  He gave compassion and forgiveness.  Just ask the woman ready to be stoned for her improprieties.  It was Him who turned the accusers away by simply saying, “He who is without sin, cast the first stone.”  He gave love.  It was love that healed the lepers;  raised the dead;  spoke parable after parable, prayer after prayer, blessing after blessing . 

He gave His very life. 

How could I forget that.  Why does $115 seem so much to me when my very life was bought with a life.  A perfect life.  He can ask me to pay a bill because He already paid the most expensive one.

It’s not about the money.  Hasn’t He always provided?  It’s about the heart.  My heart proved unfaithful this time, but I’m a work in progress.  I’m praying I’ll be able to prove that very soon.  Maybe at the next supermarket checkout.

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6 thoughts on “Lessons Learned at the Supermarket Checkout

  1. I recently had a very similar experience- this past February….After having a really great morning in prayer and preparing for my bible study which I was leading that evening,

    I went to get a haircut and to Tops to get a few groceries I forgot while out shopping the day before. I am waiting in line and no one is moving, there are two orders ahead of me and the first – an older lady, is holding things up because she doesn’t have enough money to pay for all she has on the counter. So everyone is grumbling- including me, though I am trying to put a positive spin on it with the guy behind me- saying “I’m in no rush” and “at least they have all their lanes open”. And meanwhile a thought creeps over my mind that I should pay for the rest of this lady’s groceries, but I look at how much she has there and I mentally start adding it up and like we’re looking at somewhere around $60 worth, and I start to think that’s a lot of money and continue grumbling with those in line. The thought continues that I should offer to pay for this lady’s stuff, but I ignore that thought and start making excuses to myself “well if I were next in line behind her”, “oh look she’s putting stuff back and there’s not enough time”…. Anyway she left and I went to another line. After I got in my car I realized that I just blew it, I had the opportunity to make a difference, to be Christ to that woman and be a testimony to all those in line and the cashier as well and I blew it! Then I was thinking how I didn’t even need the food I bought really, and that I could have skipped the car wash that I was going to get afterward. I cried over it- another first for me- sitting there in the Tops parking lot mourning over the fact that I caved to my flesh when I knew the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do otherwise. It was truly humbling, just when I was feeling so good about what happened this morning- the Lord shows me again- that I cannot lean on my own strength, but must learn to walk in His. To live His word in my life and not to squander the opportunities He brings along. That it is not just leading a bible study that produces fruit, but being Christ, living His word for others to see. I prayed for His forgiveness and that the next time He will strengthen me to be able to do the right thing.

    I am thankful for His forgiveness, and that He is the God of second chances, and third and forth etc….

  2. Since then the Lord did give me another opportunity almost identical to the first, this time the woman’s bank card wouldn’t work. So I did not hesitate to offer to pay, except that in the end I didn’t have to because the bank card suddenly worked. A test perhaps???

    Perhaps the Lord will give you another opportunity too- I will pray that you will not hesitate when it comes your way.

    Aunt Stacey

    • A-FREAKIN-MEN! 🙂 Matt. 25:35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in…. When we have done it for the least of these, we’ve done it for Him. Thanks for the encouragement Aunt Stace!

  3. Amazing, once again. I am very grateful for the reminder that He already paid the price (AND He is my provider).

    Thank you, Cory, for using and sharing your ‘talent’.

    xoxo i love you.

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