I left Nashville tired and gloomy at 4:00AM with a near nine hour drive ahead of me––rushing toward the hospital as quickly as I could after a call from my siblings to make me aware of what was happening. My unconscious dad had been rushed by ambulance to the local emergency room with dangerously low blood sugar levels.
Thankfully, dad is like a cat with nine lives.
This is the second time––in nine years––I’ve watched Jesus respond beyond graciously to a terribly close call. Dad thankfully bounced back and continues to recover from what could have been a very different outcome. As dad began showing signs of recovering, I decided an oil change for the return trip home was in order.
As it turns out, Walmart was my only option on a Saturday in small-town Northwest Arkansas. I mentioned the Saturday morning oil change outing to mom and she took full advantage of me by providing a list of items she required, one of which was bird seed.
Finding the right right birdseed is easier said than done.
First I went to the pet area and asked a Walmart employee (Caleb) about birdseed. He pointed me to a few bags on a shelf. I called my mom but none of the bags were the ones she wanted. Mom directed me across the store to a whole different section that was like the birdseed stockpile to end all birdseed stockpiles. In case you’re ever in the mood for birdseed, Walmart has your back.
God had graciously given me several beautiful moments to pray for and encourage people in the store (and mostly on my way to the birdseed supply). By the time I had prayed and talked with people––and what felt like an eternity later–– I finally found the proper bag of seed. By that time I was worried both milk and yogurt in my cart would be warm by the time I got home––not to mention it was that fluke of an 80 degree day in mid February.
I did the unthinkable Walmart move that you’ve at least thought about and probably done: I returned warmish milk and yogurt to the sections where I had found them and replaced them with fresher versions.
Sketchy, I know.
Once again I found myself cruising through the pet section and saw Caleb stocking shelves. The thought crossed my mind that I should encourage Caleb and offer to pray. Like most of us, I quickly dismissed it. Again, the thought crossed my mind. This time I set my cart aside and went over to Caleb and shared my crazy birdseed accomplishment.
I then began sharing how I sensed Jesus saw Caleb: as someone who was able to see people around him––not for the issues, problems, or brokenness they carried––but for the potential beyond and above all that. I shared this and asked if it made sense. Tears had begun forming in his eyes and he confirmed with his mouth that I wasn’t insane. I honored Caleb for who he was and asked if I could pray with him. “Sure, that would be great.” We held hands in the pet department and prayed Jesus would continue moving powerfully through him.
Stopping for others is always worth the messy awkward––even, and especially––when I have no clue what God may desire to say to them.
Take a risk, your Father is King of birdseed and the universe.