You've probably seen the movie. And you probably went through an entire box of tissues too, didn't you? For those who haven't seen the movie "Pay It Forward", the premise is this....a Social Studies teacher gives his students an extra credit activity that is supposed to last the entire shcool year long. The challenge is to think of an idea to change our world- and put it into action. An 11 year old boy comes up with an idea to do something out of the ordinary for 3 people and tells them not to pay him back in return. But instead, do something for 3 more people and so on and so on. The movie gets a little more complicated than that, but that's the basic story line. I watched the movie several years ago and was deeply touched by it.
Yesterday on the way home from the gym, we were listening to the radio and a sound byte came on from a program that was to air later in the day. In the clip, the host was talking about kindness. He said that the world we live in right now is very unkind. No big revelation there. But he went further. He challenged the listeners to do something kind for someone today. Something that would make them scratch their heads and wonder why a perfect stranger would do something nice for them. He talked about how this would most assuredly open up the door to share the love of Christ with that person. It stuck with me. I thought about it all day. I wondered what I could do. But you know, these things can't be planned. They just happen. You just need to seize the moment when it presents itself.
I was at Wal Mart later in the day buying some snacks for the boys and their friends who would be coming over for movie night. I was in the checkout line and an elderly man was in front of me. He looked to be about in his 80's I would guess. I could see that he had his prescription medicine in his hand. When he laid it on the counter, he had a coupon to use for it. The next few seconds seemed like they lasted an eternity in my mind. For a split second, I thought about paying for his medicine for him, but then I thought to myself "How much would it cost?, What if he was offended by my offer? What would the people around me think?" In that split second it took for me to doubt myself, the cashier gave him his total and he swiped his card through the machine. My heart fell to the floor, it seemed. I missed my opportunity. It came and went before I even had the chance to do anything. But then something happened. I heard the cashier say these words..."Sir, could you please swipe your card again, you did it backwards." I nearly fell over. But this time I didn't waste any time. I immediately put my hand on his shoulder and said "Sir, I want to do something for you. I'd like to pay for your medicine and I want to tell you that Jesus loves you." I could see the tears welling up in his eyes as he asked me why I would do that for him. I simply said that someone was once kind to me in the checkout at Wal Mart and I wanted to pass that kindness along to him and I wanted him to know that God cared about him. He was crying now. One little old lonely man. Crying in the checkout at Wal Mart. All because someone was willing to give up $22.04 to pay for his medicine. He stumbled over his words as he told me "thank you" and he said the sweetest words to me. He said "Honey, the Lord will bless you for this. He really will. He really will. God bless you." I was crying at this point. He grabbed his things as I took care of his bill and shuffled out the door, shaking his head and wiping at his tears. I turned to the cashier as she completed the transaction and then proceeded to ring through my purchases. She was almost speechless except to say that it was so kind and thoughtful of me to do something like that. I caught a glimpse of the gentleman behind me smiling as well. I simply said to her that I just wanted to repay the kindness that was shown to me.
It hit me as I loaded my bags into the trunk of my car. Not only did God give me the opportunity to do something kind for a lonely old man who is probably living on a very limited income, but he allowed two other people to witness it, possibly restoring their faith in the kindness of strangers and in a God who cares about every detail of our lives. How thankful I am to have had this opportunity. You know, there have been times in my life, some recently, where $22.04 was a huge amount of money to me. And I wouldn't have even had that amount to bless someone with. I mean, that would buy a box of diapers, or put gas in my car, or buy some socks and t shirts for my boys. But recently, my husband and i have been blessed financially and it felt better than I can even put into words to be able to do this.
So, I want to put this challenge out there. Do something kind for someone today. My opportunity came in this form, but yours may be different. You may have the chance to shovel someone's walk for them, or carry someone's groceries to their car, or make a meal for a sick friend. How about paying for the meal for the person behind you in the drive thru at McDonald's and tell the cashier to hand them a note simply saying Jesus loves you. Think about it. And ask God to give you an opportunity. And then when it comes, don't think about it, just do it. Don't hesitate. Seize the moment. And see what God will use you to do.
And let me know about it. I'd like for you to send me a message telling me about what happened.
May you be encouraged and inspired to make a difference in the life of a stranger!