It was 2018, on the eve of Good Friday. I was in a Wal-Mart line waiting to purchase a few groceries. The line took its time moving forward, but finally, the man in front of me stepped up to the cashier to make his purchase. He looked like he could have been a businessman, dressed in dress slacks, dress shoes and a formal jacket. But that wasn’t what caught my attention.
As he made his purchases, he struck up a casual, cheerful conversation with the cashier. He joked and laughed; it was easy to see that he was brightening her day just by the way he treated her throughout their interaction. But that wasn’t what truly caught my attention about him either. There was just something- something about him. I wondered, for a moment if he had a relationship with God. Of course, I thought, there was no way I could ever know- there was nothing on his person that indicated that he might be a man of faith. Nevertheless, his kindness towards the cashier changed the atmosphere of the line as the people behind me took notice. His actions inspired us to make our interactions with the cashier enjoyable and not ordinarily polite.
Once he left, I made my purchases and packed my bags. The weather outside could fittingly be described as a “dark and stormy night”, so I took an extra minute to make sure every bag was tightly tied so the rain wouldn’t get in. I was making my way to the exit when a man tried to get my attention. It was the same man whose kindness I had observed in the line.
He looked slightly nervous and mildly terrified as he stepped towards me and said, “Excuse me miss. Please don’t be offended, but I feel like God wants me to bless you with a hundred dollars.”
Up until that point, I hadn’t realized that somewhere along the way I’d decided that blessings like that only happened to pastors and missionaries. I was definitely thrown for a loop. Yet to my surprise, I did something I never thought I’d do in a situation with a stranger like that: I received.
We went on talking a bit longer and I found out that he pastored a Baptist church nearby. I told him that I was a Christian as well. We spoke a little more about God and His goodness and then parted ways.
The money was definitely a blessing. At that time I was unemployed and it made a big difference for me. But the lessons God taught me through that interaction have blessed me even more.
I know myself fairly well. Money is like the adult equivalent to candy. Ask me what I would do if a stranger came up to me in a store and offered me money, and I would tell you that I would either be speeding out of there or calling for security if they wouldn’t take no for an answer. Unfortunately, the thought of God wanting to use someone to bless me likely wouldn’t have occurred to me until much later- probably after I called security.
But God knew that too. God knows us. That’s why I believe He let this blessing take form in the way it did. I watched this man’s interaction with the cashier and could tell that there was something about him. That something was God’s light shining through him. It’s what made me stop and listen when he tried to do what God put on his heart. God prepared me to be in a place where I would be of a mind to receive the blessing He had for me. What blessed me, even more, was the revelation that in receiving I could be a blessing as well.
That man looked anything but comfortable when he approached me. God was stretching him. In this instance, stretching him put him in a vulnerable position with me, someone who could have gotten offended or made a scene. I can only imagine how hard it would have been to listen to God’s urging to bless another stranger the way he did me down the road if our interaction had gone differently and I had not received the blessing.
Receiving has always felt one-sided to me. In many instances, I find it hard to receive. But through that interaction, I learned the importance of not just receiving, but receiving well.
Giving in any capacity, whether it’s time, talents or finances can put people in a vulnerable position. Those on the receiving end can reject what the givers have offered. Reject long enough or in a cruel or thoughtless way, and it is easy for someone to close their heart to give in the way God has called them to give. Yet, receive with joy and thankfulness of heart and you have the privilege of honouring the vulnerability they’ve shown you. You have the opportunity to strengthen their faith.
In this way, even while receiving, we can be a blessing. Even while receiving, we can help someone grow. God blesses us so that we can be a blessing, but the cycle is broken if we don’t receive it.
Ecclesiastes 3 is a chapter in the Bible that talks about the seasons of life, but it’s also about relationships. There is a relationship between life and death. There is a relationship between planting and harvesting. There is also a relationship between giving and receiving. To give, one must receive. A cheerful receiver can help grow a cheerful giver, so I encourage you to joyfully receive!
Above everyone else, it is God who wants to bless each one of us with His Spirit and His love. John 3:16 says this: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” (KJV). Jesus gave. But whether or not we receive His love, His Spirit and His blessings are up to us.
God loves you. He wants you to receive His love in every way that He wants to show it to you. He gives to bless you so that you might give as well. But you can’t give what you don’t have.
So I encourage you to look inside yourself. Ask God to help you remove any obstacles that have kept you from accepting His love. Then, as you allow that burden of guilt and unworthiness to be lifted off of you, open your hands. Open your heart.
May you continue to experience extraordinary in Him!