Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Groceries - deadline 8-23-12 10 am NY time (08/16/12)
TITLE: Miracle Market Day
By Tim Pickl
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On one glorious morning, I thought it was just another routine Thursday as I zigzagged through the store, grabbing the groceries we would need, matching the coupons and specials. I think the store management wanted to clear the shelves that week, because it seemed the coupons were extra good. I ended up pushing two carts filled almost to the point of spilling over to the checkout lane.
While I waited, I forced myself not to look at the racks packed with candy bars, soap opera magazines and celebrity rags (also known as newspapers). Instead, I silently prayed for my family, thanking God for the means to feed everyone.
I chatted with my friend Beth, my favorite checkout clerk. Beth seemed more stressed and tired than usual, probably because the store was packed with anxious customers, filling carts with loads of groceries just like I did.
It’s interesting to note that the rudeness level of people matches the overall total of the market’s coupons and specials.
I decided to have the opposite attitude, and announced to her with a smile, “Thank God it’s almost Friday!”
Beth laughed out loud. “Thank you so much, Rebecca, I needed that today.”
“I see it’s a wee bit busier than usual today.”
“Yes, ma’am. It’s ‘Thunder Thursday’, as I call it. The boss likes to clear the store out as much as possible before fiscal year end.” She sighed, then added with a smile, “Thanks for helping the cause.”
“It’s my pleasure. I really like this place.”
Beth carefully packed the groceries into my reusable bags. I dutifully purchased the bags from the same market about a year prior. “All those mouths you have to feed… I don’t know how you do it.”
That was my queue to bring God into the conversation. “God has blessed us abundantly ever since we turned our lives over to Him. If we didn’t have The Lord in our lives, providing for our every need, there’s no way our family could make it in this world.”
“You adopted half your kids, right?”
“Yes, we took in a family who had lost their mother to a gang fight.”
“Rebecca, I’ve been thinking a lot about your invitation a couple of weeks ago. I want to come to church with you this Sunday.”
“That’s wonderful! I will call you tonight and we’ll make the arrangements.”
As I pulled the shopping carts out of the store, a man walked up to me. He offered to help me put the bags of food into my van. Normally I would just tell strangers to go away, but there was something different about this man. He was an older fellow, with silvery graying hair; tall and thin. He was clean shaven and dressed in clean jeans and a crisp, white button-down shirt.
After emptying the carts, he pushed them to the cart corral and returned.
“Can you please give me a ride home?”
Crazily, I found myself saying, “Yes.”
This had to be a God thing.
He directed me to turn down a street into a neighborhood I hadn’t seen since I was a child. The district was now a high crime area, replete with drug addicts and homeless people, meandering around like zombies. These were the outcast—the unwanted—the dregs of society. For the most part, the churches and government of our great city have an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude toward these poor souls.
But, the Holy Spirit reminded me as we drove by them, “I died for these people.”
“Slow down… park there. This is home.”
I pulled over and parked in front of the city’s one-and-only Rescue Mission. Lined up outside were dozens of hungry people, waiting to get in to receive a little food for the day.
The man rolled down the passenger side window.
A volunteer was standing by the Rescue Mission’s main door, announcing to the people, “We have no more food! I’m so sorry. Please, please come back tomorrow.”
The man inquired, “Bob! Please come here.”
The volunteer walked over, shielding his eyes from the morning sun.
“We have a van load of food for everyone.”
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