It is another beautiful day here in Ballengee. The sun is shining its golden rays down upon us from the high perch of the noon. Shadows no longer lean-to the east or the west but fall directly beneath their object of shape. I myself have just returned from my morning trip to the grocery. I planned this event to be an early morning thing but I admit that shopping is a chore I dislike. Mr. Fred Medders, a quite meek man with a permanent smile and words spoken from a compassionate strength, also a faithful member at the Church on the Knoll, runs the local market which we just call Medders Market. I could go on for quite a spell telling about all the little things that cause my attitude to fail during my shopping adventures, but they are petty when I think about them. I can not once remember enjoying the experience. Today though God took the time to remind me that He is everywhere.

During my venture through the checkout lane, always an impatient experience for me, I was captured behind a scraggly appareled elderly lady. She was not dirty nor of a bad aroma but her clothes and person was well-worn. What became interesting to me was what and how she was purchasing. Cradled on her hip by one arm was a dirty sack full of soda bottles. Slung on her other fore arm was a large cloth purse and in her hand were two cans of cat food.

Just my luck, as the day was near half spent, and now at the checkout counter I have to endure the return of an un-numbered amount of bottles. It has always pained my understanding as to why grocery stores have multiple checkout lanes but only use one. Her turn came and she slowly extracted the bottles from the dirty paper sack. There was some Dr. Pepper, Coca-Cola, and UN-Cola and beer bottles, which were not refundable. This assortment of glassware was of the obvious origin of a ditch. All were dirty and some had dirt, liquid or both inside. Under the scorn of the checkout clerk the money was counted out one nickel at a time.

This transaction complete brought on the next. I was not stressed further as I had resigned to the event. Amazingly the price of the cat food did not exceed the available funds from the bottle return. Great! I would not have to be faced with the inner debate as to if I should pitch in. Don’t I pay enough in taxes? This done the tattered lady opened her purse to place the cat food in. Who could not realize the condiment sized ketchup packages that near filled her purse? She noticed my scornful look and meekly said.

“Kitty likes to disguise the taste of the cat food.”

Anticipating my long-awaited turn I looked around with eyebrows raised. Does anyone feel my pain? It was then that I noticed Fred Medders standing behind me. Not surprisingly Fred knew the lady by name.

“Miss Andrea how are you today?” Fred inserted into my already long delay.

“Lovely Mr. Medders. It is a lovely day.” Miss Andrea returned as Fred told her to wait there for just a moment.

In what promised to be more than “just a moment,” but surprisingly just a few, a stock boy appeared with a bag full of groceries. It had never dawned upon me that the cat food and ketchup combined was Miss Andrea’s diet. I just thought she had a weird cat.

It does not astound me that I, and many, still wonder the miracles of Jesus. But here in a moment of time unwillingly given I’ve learned one of the secrets in the feeding of the five thousand. It’s Jesus working through us that feeds those who hunger. Jesus blessed the loaves and fishes but it was His disciples who gathered and dispersed them. Jesus’ blessing upon our work in His will causes His Kingdom to be glorified.

Some distance is traveled here in understanding the identity of Jesus. Argue this thought then. Jesus came from the Father as a man and remained as a spirit. Does He not live in and through us? So we live because He lives.

Fred performed a great act of human kindness showing compassion, sympathy and a great understanding for empathy. While I debated the contribution of a few pennies, and only for convince of time, Fred allowed Miss Andrea to do for herself. He then added to her profit with his blessing. Fred’s act of kindness is a great example of the work of Jesus. Well, Hey! It was the work of Jesus living through Fred.

It is a hard, if not an impossible thing, to live a Christ like life. For the most part we stumble and fall each day. Jesus expects us to live by His example but knows the frailties of our humanity. Why not? He created us and has endured our experience. He has made provision for our escape and return to His will. This is our salvation from sin. We must be careful that our salvation is not into sin. One has said, ” Christians that feel they have acquired goodness in their life tend to punctuate the flaws in others.” We must continuously confess our sins and not that of our neighbors. None of us will arrive while we stand here in the abyss of the world. Not while we are still shackled to our flesh and living under the inheritance of our sin nature. What then is our hope? Where could we go but to the Lord?

What then is the tie that binds? Not our love for each other, our love is a flexible thing. Our love balances between our need and want. Our love has great moments of strength and disparate moments of weakness. But this is the verdict of our conviction placed upon us in the garden. We are only human. Praise God with great Thanksgiving for the age of grace.

But there is consistency and there is stability in our lives. When I realize, that those whom I admire the most, all those whom I detest the most, both before now and to come and those of the present, both those whom I know and those I know not and those who remain un-imagined, that the worst of each was placed upon the life of Jesus, the Christ, who assumed the debt of all, then there is nothing left of a soul but the potential for righteousness.   This is very idealistic and not consistent to the reality of our love. The consistency is found not in our love for God but in His love toward us.

There are in this world those who are clearly shining lights of His truth. They know the meaning of love towards one another as they know the meaning of His love in their lives. Perhaps before we judge one another, we should qualify the righteousness of our own filthy rags. Perhaps most of all we should remember that we all are seen in the judgment of His piercing light, and forgiven.

Copyright: 2001 Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Durant Bible College


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