Friday, November 16, 2012

Grocery Store Evangelism

"Should I purchase two one pound packages of Italian sausage, or the singular two pound package?"  

Back & forth I went as I conversed with myself while trying to make my decision. 

"The larger package is only a savings of 3 cents over the smaller ones; which would actually be a better size anyway.  But the larger one could be cut in thirds and frozen that way.  That might work better." 

Back and forth.  Back and forth. 

My choice needn't have been so difficult or time-consuming, but for some reason it was.  It kept me standing at the meat counter far longer than I'd intended.

"Well now; I'm done with my shopping!" came a voice from somewhere behind me. 

I glanced over my shoulder to see an elderly man standing beside me, his shopping cart neatly stacked with grocery items.  It was then that I realized he was actually speaking to me.

"That about does it.  And I got my Thanksgiving turkey, too.  It's only 28 cents a pound."

He offered all this as if we'd been friends forever, just talking about grocery shopping as BFFs might do.




I smiled politely, and gave him the Thumb's Up sign, adding:  "Good job!  What a great cost savings ... a blessing for sure."

"Not really.  Last year I only paid 19 cents a pound.  Hey ... are you religious?"

Taken back only briefly, I replied:  "I don't think so.  Mostly I believe the scriptures and what Jesus did for and in me. He changed my life."  

"That's what I thought:  religious.  I don't have anything to do with that stuff."

"Stuff?", I asked.  "Have you had a bad experience with church, or with Christians?"

"Naw ...  it's just that ... well...  er .... a long time ago I lost my son."

"I'm so sorry to hear that.  It must have been a terribly painful loss for you."

"Hey ... are those fresh green beans in your cart?  You know, my wife adds a bit of onion & some bacon, then simmers them slowly for hours.  They're the best!"

"I do that too.  My mother was a farm girl, and that's how she cooked fresh green beans."

"You don't say?!!  I've never met anyone that does them that way.  You're the first."

By now we were walking towards the dairy aisle.  My new friend kept pace with me, as if he needed dairy items too.  Hadn't he just told me he was done with his shopping?

"My brother's religious.  He's really wacky."

"Why do you say that?  Is he overly zealous?"

"No, he has Alzheimer's (me, surpressing laughter, knowing he connected Christians to Alzheimer's victims).  And he's younger than me.  Would you believe I'm 95?" 

"Wow.  You're 95?  That's amazing.  I'm sorry about your brother."

By now I'm not sure what to do with my new friend.  He was obviously in need of a conversation, never mind we were now blocking two aisles.  I could tell he was regular at this, because every store clerk that walked by he greeted with familiarity; they responded in kind. 

"Well, I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving.  God bless you."

"I thought you said you weren't religious?"

"Here's the deal ... I simply accept what Jesus did for me. If that's religious, then I'm guilty as charged."

"I don't believe in Him."

"Well, He believes in you!"

"Don't say that ... ", now quickening his pace to look me in the eye. 

"You know, I do believe in God, just not the New Testament stuff..  It's all just a bunch of stuff the Catholics put together."   (me supressing a soap box session on how much the early Church/Catholics gave us in the form of today's Canon)

"Really?  I didn't know that.  So let's just say we ignore the New Testament for a moment.  Did you know the Old Testament says the exact same thing?"

Silence.

"Who & what did God promise Adam & Eve from the git-go as the One who would ultimately defeat evil?  Who is the King/Priest that will rule mankind?  Who is Immanuel?  Who is the suffering/saving Messiah?  What were the feasts & atonement sacrifices meant to typify?"

I waited for it to sink in.

"By the way, my name's Ron.  What's yours?"

"I'm Kathleen."

"Do you know where I can find the sliced turkey; the kind you use for sandwiches?"

"You bet.  Just head back down the deli aisle and you'll see it at the very end."

"Thank you, Kathleen; you've been kind"

"God bless you, Ron."

As I walked away I found myself chuckling a bit, but also humbled - - absolutely certain that God had ordained my 20 minute visit with Ron.  I began praying silently; prayers that attended my thoughts throughout the day and continue still.  

It is true:  We just never know when a divine appointment is scheduled. 

In case you're wondering, I bought the two individual packages of Italian sausage.

 
" ... in your hearts revere Christ as Lord.
Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone
who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.
But do this with gentleness and respect ... 
~ 1 Peter 3:15



Footnote:  There are so many dots to connect to this one experience I hardly know where to begin.  I often pray:  "Lord, lead me.  Show me when & where & how to be Your hands & feet."  Equally often I am dumbfounded when He orchestrates something profound in the midst of the mundane.  God wanted Ron to know that he is loved.  In the midst of that, the Gospel was shared.  What was a routine jaunt to the store for me became a milestone of ministry.  I came away with the sense that Ron's life will never be the same.  I know mine won't. 

16 comments:

Renee Regnier said...

Kathleen,

Great post! I understand Christians' response to "being religious." However, as it seems, the world doesn't understand the difference. We all get lumped in together in the pot called "Christians and religious." How can we learn to live happily? with the tag, "religious"? All of the semantics are driving me crazy!

manthano said...

Neat the way God opens doors.
Thanks for sharing. I guess I
need to learn to shop.
Bless you.

skoots1mom said...

that's what Christ meant when He said to proclaim it to the world...sharing what He has done for us, that we know what we know. You've shared some pearls he may not have contemplated before he met you.

Debbie said...

Can't tell you how this blessed me tonight Kathleen, and provided a chuckle or two as well.. : ) I agree with you, a divine appointment that will leave it's mark on both of you. Enjoy your week-end!

Saleslady371 said...

Ron seemed adamant that he doesn't believe but it sounds to me like he was fishing. So glad you took Jesus and his mighty Word with you to purchase that sausage! We never know do we?

Denise said...

Wonderful post.

Debbie Petras said...

Kathleen, when I saw this title to your post in my blogroll, I had to come over now and read it. I love those Divine appointments. Isn't it amazing how the Lord brings them at the most unexpected time? The Scriptures you ended with are perfect. We must always be prepared. What if you were in too much of a hurry to talk with Ron? You and he would have missed out on this divine encounter.

You don't know how your words may have impacted Ron. At 95 years old, he's quite the character! But it seems he sensed something different about you. Keep on preaching sister Kathleen. Planting those seeds and trusting God with the results. I am saying a prayer for Ron that they will take root.

Love,
Debbie

RCUBEs said...

I often enjoy my grocery shopping trips, paying attention to what could save me better so I could feel your "predicament" when faced with those sausages. :)

I loved the way you wrote about your conversation as if I was right there and I could imagine his facial expressions. That is what's sad that being born-again should help us become renewed but oftentimes, many of us fall back into legalism. So, I couldn't blame him if that was how he viewed Christians?

I know your talk penetrated his heart but what powerful prayer you must have raised up in the heavens. So now...it's His turn!!!

Blessings to you sister!

Maryann said...

This is such an encouragement for us to be watchful for those divine appointments...this was such a blessing to me

Sonja said...

Sounds like the reason for your sausage question and pause, was to meet up with Ron. I love your 'state of readiness' to share what makes the difference. I pray he will see that too.

Keep pushing that cart and speaking His truth.

Patrina's Pencil said...

Loved walking behind you two...in the isle...great watching and hearing you in action. I could see Ron...I really pictured him in my mind's eye. And I believe he gave you his name...not only so that you could remember him...but that he could remember you by name. You're probably one of the few... kind, 'religious' people he's encountered. He probably wanted to connect your 'kindness' with a name.

But....now we ALL know Ron's name! I think praying for people by their given name... is powerful. And that is what I am doing...I'm praying for the light of Christ to beam down on Ron and turn his questions in answers before he turns 96.

It wouldn't surprise me if you SEE Ron from time to time in one of those 'blessed' isles. You can bet, he'll be looking for you!

I loved every minute of this shopping experience. Too bad you weren't on 'candid camera'... who knows, maybe you were. You were certainly on God's radar!

blessings
patrina <")>><

elaineolsen@live.com said...

You're a farmer, Sassy, planting one seed at a time. You're right, this one has a lot of angles to consider. I'm glad for Ron's encounter with you and with Jesus. I know you never underestimate the worthiness of a single moment.

Keep to it.

peace~elaine

Robin @ Be Still and Know said...

Well, I'd call that encounter an amazing opportunity! Well done, one of my biggest obstacles is being able to say the thing I want to say at the moment when it is needed. I fail most times. What I noticed in your retelling of your encounter was how you engaged Ron with questions in response to his statements. That is one of the tools that Jesus uses all the time. He rarely answered anyone's question directly. Most of the time he followed up a question with another question, very rabbinical! Asking a follow up question is a great way to further a conversation and something that I am trying to remember when I am in situations where I have opportunities to possible share my faith.

Well done!

Miriam said...

I'm so glad that God brought this timing to share with Ron! At 95, The Lord presented another time for him to accept God's truths! What grace was poured out in a grocery store.
May you have a blessed Thanksgiving and may Ron know it too!

Just a little something from Judy said...

God's providence surprises me over and over again. His vessels bless me over and over again. What a vibrant and kind ambassador you are of the King of Kings. Loved this encounter and the documentation of it. There are no "chance encounters" in His book. Great post!

Beth E. said...

What a wonderful post, Sassy! Your encounter with Ron was a divine appointment, no doubt about it. Bless his heart, he seems a little confused about Christianity. I thought you answered him with great wisdom and compassion.

Now, about being religious...I don't think I am. Once, during a revival, I heard a preacher say that you can be religious about picking your nose! (Ew.) He then went on to say that he considered himself spiritual...filled with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. :-)

Hugs...