In this season of “being jolly” and “dashing through…” I experienced a wonderful lesson in life. One of the most difficult things for me to balance is how best to spend my time. I love to accomplish much and get things done, and done well, but I’m not always discerning about what really should be accomplished and manner in which I do them.
Recently I was doing my grocery shopping at our local Kroger. I am a paraplegic and although I’ve lived life in this wheelchair for almost 33 years now, I forget that others haven’t always seen someone pushing a grocery cart with one hand and pushing a wheelchair with the opposite. I have quite a system worked out as to how gather the goods and get that cart through the store. The cart only usually travels the perimeter of the store. It is parked at the end of every other isle while I roll down each one, gathering things on my lap and then take them to and place them in the cart. If I can’t reach something, then I meet someone nearby and ask for help. (I have never been turned down!)
On this particular day, several new faces saw me making my way through the store, doing my system. One man offered to push my cart and I told him the usual answer, “Oh honey, I’ve been in this chair for 33 years. I’ve got this down to a science. You should have seen me when my children were little.” That usually does it. I then receive a smile and a nod with some type of how proud they are of me. Then I met this gentleman, standing at the back of Kroger, just drinking his free cup of coffee. That answer wasn’t enough. He thought I had a need and I did, but I didn’t realize I had a need.
I sensed that he really wanted to help, so I went back to him and asked him to reach something for me on the next isle. He gladly did then took it back to my cart and control of my cart. That’s when he began to push the cart and follow me up and down every isle. To be honest, I was very, very frustrated! He was slowing me down and wanted to not only find out about me but also tell me about himself. He said that since his wife had died that he would take his clothes to the laundromat down the street and then come to Kroger, drink some coffee and visit with folks. That softened my heart some.
We made it to the check out and the Kroger employees took over unloading my groceries. They all know me pretty well and were smiling because someone was helping me. They began to brag on me and how I do this all the time by myself. I thanked the gentleman and then on out to my van I went with the Kroger employee following and then unloading the groceries into the back of my van. I wheeled inside, transfered into the driver’s seat and guess who knocked on my window? Yes, the gentleman who had taken charge of my cart and time for probably 45 minutes. I pushed the button and my window went down. He stretched out his hand inside for me to shake and said, “Mam, this has been the highlight of my day.”
As he turned to walk away, I put my head on the steering wheel and began to cry. “I am so sorry, Lord. Please forgive me for not seeing the real reason for going to Kroger at this particular time.” That man had a need, but I also had a need. His was to be “needed.” I “needed” to lay aside my pride and realize that people are important and they all have story.
Certainly I don’t believe that I am to stop and listen to everyone who comes in my path. Sometimes the urgent really does have to get done, but I do believe that the Lord will give us discernment when we ask and will show us how to minister to the real “need” at hand. That man was a blessing to me and I would have missed it all if he hadn’t been so persistent in seeing my need.
By the way, as I sat there in my van with my head on the steering wheel crying, I heard a knock at the window again. You guessed it. He was checking on me…wanted to know if I was alright.
Oh Lord, give me the discernment to see the “needs” around me and which ones I am to help. Keep me in the place of need for YOU. Apart from YOU, I can do nothing!