I Don’t Think I Will Do This Again

On her way out of town, she stopped for a breakfast sandwich at a popular fast food restaurant. There weren’t many cars ahead of her which was good because she was kind of in a hurry. Not a big hurry, but enough so that she couldn’t afford any long delays.

She gave her order and drove up. Two cars in front of her, three cars behind her. As she looked at the car right behind her, a thought flashed through her head. “You could pay for their order. It would be a surprise and a blessing for them.”

She had heard of people doing this but she had never done it before, nor had she ever been on the receiving end. I should do it, she thought.

But she soon had second thoughts as she wondered what the process would be. Would the cashier know what she wanted to do? Would she or he know how to do it? What would the people in the car behind her think? Would everyone think she was a fool? It seemed like such a dumb idea.

The line moved up and she began getting nervous. Her turn to pay would be next and she still hadn’t decided what to do. Fear began to rise in her as she wondered if she would even be able to vocalize what she wanted to do. All her life people seemed to have trouble understanding her and many times it was because she had trouble finding the right words to use. She never could figure out why something that came so easy for other people came so hard for her. Maybe she should just forget it.

Yet the thought had come to her. And that thought had never come to her before. What if it was God? She couldn’t just dismiss it. She had to obey it just in case.

The car ahead of her pulled ahead and she pulled up to the cashier’s window.

“$5.28,” the cashier said.

As she handed her debit card to the cashier, she blurted out, “I want to pay for the order of the car behind me, too.”

The cashier looked at the computer and said, “It’ll be $14.27. Still want to do it?”

Nodding, she thought how a year ago she would have choked on the amount. But the healing God had been doing in her throughout the last year, including her emotional attachment to her money, was evident as the amount today didn’t even cause her to raise her eyebrow.  What did raise her eyebrow was the cashier’s request to someone out of sight for a key. Then she walked a few feet away from the register and waited. After what felt like ten minutes but was probably closer to thirty seconds, the cashier came back to the window and explained that she needed a manager to enter a key in order to use the same card twice. A man walked over, presumably the manager, punched something into the machine, then walked away.

She looked behind her. This was delaying everyone. Now there were more than five cars IMG_20180522_215334342_HDRback there. If she had known this would cause a delay for the other people in line, she would never have done it. Feeling very self-conscience, she took her card as the cashier finally handed it to her and drove forward. Picking up her meal, she took one more glance behind her. By now the people in that car would know their meal had been paid for.  What were they thinking?

It doesn’t really matter, she told herself. I did what I thought God wanted me to do. That’s all that I need to be concerned about. But I don’t think I’m going to do this again.

That night, when she returned home, she told her husband of her experience as she opened the mail. He laughed and said he’d done it a few times, and even had been the recipient a time or two. Looking inside the envelope, she was surprised to see a check made out in her name from a medical office. The note said it was reimbursement for a payment she had made months before that insurance had later also paid. She couldn’t remember even making that payment. What surprised her even more was the amount on the check – $142, which was ten times what she had paid that morning for the other car’s order. She had heard of the tenfold law – ‘give and it will be given back to you tenfold’ – but also knew it was not found in the Bible. There was a thirtyfold, sixtyfold, even a hundredfold, but not tenfold. She puzzled over the amount until it dawned on her. God was making sure she connected the check to the meal she had paid for that morning. He knew the struggle she had gone through and yet had chosen to obey in spite of her doubts. This check was His way of saying, “Well, done!” Amazing!

God is My Defender

I heard those words repeatedly over the course of a few weeks.

“… your God, who defends his people.” Is 51:22

“This is what the LORD says, “See, I will defend your cause…” Jer 51:36

“We do not need to defend ourselves…” Dan 3: 16

“Do not worry about how you will defend yourselves…” Luke 12:11

OK, I thought. Must be a new lesson. Sounded good to me. I knew no one could be a better defender than the Almighty God who loved me. And it was always good when He wanted to do something for me.

So I watched for opportunities in which I would normally try to defend myself to practice this new lesson. They came more often than I would have guessed. Little things, but frequent enough to give me the time to get good at keeping my mouth shut.

“I’ve got this!” I finally felt one day.

“Really? Then it’s time.”

Time for what, I wondered.

“Would you come to my office please?” The principal didn’t sound too happy. Oh, no, I thought. What did I do now? Turns out a parent had made some complaints and wanted a meeting to discuss them, with the principal in attendance. The meeting was set for the following day.

All night I wondered what the complaints were. I searched my memory for any indication that any parent had been upset with me. Nothing. I had no clue which parent it was or what this parent was going to say.

“Remember, I am your defender. Do not say anything. Let Me defend you.”

“Aallll riiiight,” I said slowly, stretching out the sounds as I considered the cost. If I didn’t say anything, if I didn’t give my side, how would the principal know what the truth was? I would look bad, and may even be disciplined for something I didn’t do. At the very least, I would probably look like a fool for not responding. But I knew I had heard from God. And if He said don’t talk, I wouldn’t talk.

“God is my defender. God is my defender. God is my defender,” I chanted quietly the next afternoon as I made my way down two hallways to the principal’s office.

As I entered the principal’s office, I was shocked at who I saw in the other chair. My parent volunteer! The one who had been helping out in my classroom for a couple of weeks! I could feel the knife beginning to prick my back.

“Have a seat,” the principal said. Then he turned to the lady. “OK. You go first. What are your concerns?”

As she rattled off everything under the sun from rudeness to teaching sex education to the boys in her bathroom, I sat there stunned, probably with my mouth hanging open. What? Where was she getting this? Why was she doing this? Nothing, absolutely nothing she said had any truth in it!

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I wanted so badly to tell the principal that it wasn’t true! But I just kept hearing, “God is my defender.” So I remained quiet.

When she finally stopped, the principal asked her, “Are you finished?”

She nodded, then glared at me. The principal turned to look at me. I thought he was going to ask me something, but then he seemed to change his mind. He turned back to the lady.

“Let me tell you about this teacher,” he began. “She is one of the best teachers here at this school. She is honest, and has the highest integrity. She is…” and he continued singing my praises for several minutes! When he got done, all I could do was marvel at God’s faithfulness. I didn’t have to defend myself, God had the principal do it!

After the principal dismissed the parent, he told me not to worry about anything. As I left his office, I may have looked like any other teacher walking from one place to another. But inside, I was shouting and praising and dancing down that hallway – to the amazing God who prepares us beforehand and who keeps His word!

Give To Those Who Ask? Really?

“You want what?” I couldn’t believe my ears.

Back in my early years of teaching, furniture other than student desks was very hard to come by. Teachers scraped and scrimmaged every piece they could find to provide for their storage needs. This included book shelves. And now the teacher across the hall, who’s room was almost wall to wall with bookshelves, had come into my room and asked me for one of the few bookshelves I had. And not just any one. My best one. Solid wood, painted my favorite shade of blue, I actually took joy in seeing it every day.

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I was about to say, “No way!” when I remembered what God had been teaching me recently in Matthew 5:42. “Give to those who ask, and do not turn away from those who want to borrow from you.” So far the lessons had been easy. Give a cup of water here, soda money there. But my book shelf? To someone who already had more than I did? Wait just a minute! Surely He didn’t mean to give something like this!

“Give to those who ask.”

Did she ask? Yes, I had to admit, she did. But she already had enough!

“Do not turn away…”

“But, God! You can’t mean that in this case! That’s my favorite book shelf!”

I tried convincing the teacher to take a brown one instead. But no, she wanted the blue one because it matched the other shelves in her room. In exchange, she would give me a rickety brown shelf that matched nothing.

If this is a test, I thought, why couldn’t it be for something different – like, say, one of my learning games? Or my new coffee mug? But my bookshelf? The one that took me years to get?

I looked at her. I looked at the shelf. And I thought, “God, I don’t want to do this. But You said to give. So I will.”

The teacher happily got her blue bookshelf, and I unhappily looked at the brown one she left. Following Jesus did not always feel good. But I wanted Jesus more than I wanted that blue shelf, and so I made the best of that old brown shelf.

Not long after that, another teacher was re-organizing her room and asked me if I wanted one of her old shelves. I jumped on it eagerly and almost ran to her room to get it.

It was a wooden blue shelf! Just like the one I had given to the teacher across the hall! Only the paint job was actually in better condition!

“Wow, God!” I thought. “Following You is amazing! Thank You!”

But the story doesn’t end there. Within the next few weeks, I was given several more wooden shelves that matched that blue one! Luke 6:38 came true right before my eyes: “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

I think I got an A on that test!