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December 08, 2008

There is a God

Good_shpeherd I don't know about you, but every now and then I get hit by this truth like a two-by-four. This Friday night was one of those times. I hesitate to write about this because I don't want people to think I'm singing my own praises. I'm not. In fact, I'm writing about this because sometimes in the most ordinary circumstances of life, we see the hand of God so unmistakably, we know it's not us, it's Him.

I had just left work last Friday and I was heading for the Redbox to rent the movie Wall-E (by the way, Roberto, you were right, it is one of the most under-discussed Christian films of the year). Anyhow, if you know anything about Redbox (I love it so), I could have gone to any one of five grocery stores, all on my way home, to find a kiosk to rent a movie for a dollar. As it was, I choose the one closest to work, letting the green lights guide me.

I was standing absentmindedly in line behind another lady when a toddler ran out of the grocery store, wailing, "Daddy, don't leave me. Don't leave me, Daddy!" He had already made his way through one set of automatic doors and was now heading for the next set just beyond me. It took me a second to realize what was going on. He was already out the door. I ran after him into the dark and right into the middle of the street where no less than three cars were pulling out toward him. I leaned down to him and told him that I would help him find his daddy, and I picked him up.

Had I been a moment later, I shudder to think what would have happened to this little one, far below the line of vision of the SUVs and minivans heading out of the parking lot.

I headed back toward the grocery store carrying the little guy, when the father brusquely grabbed him from my arms and began scolding the little boy, saying, "You heard me calling for you. You knew where I was." He walked back into the store, without thanking me. I stood there stunned.

I couldn't help but think if I'd left a moment later or earlier, or if the lights had changed differently, I wouldn't have been there then. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that God has already prepared in advance the good works he has for us. All we have to do sometimes is show up. To me, it was a clear testimony of God's existence and his concern for that little one.

As I think about it today, I'm also reminded of the contrast between this earthly father and our heavenly Father. Our heavenly Father doesn't stand still and call for us. He doesn't scold us when we come back. Our heavenly Father goes out from the ninety-nine in the sheepfold, searching for us. He won't rest until he has found us. And when we come home, he doesn't chide us. Like the father of the prodigal, He wraps his royal robe around our shoulders, puts his signet ring on our finger, and sheds tears of joy.

Thank you, God, for loving your little ones like this, and for putting me in the right place at the right time.

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And when it becomes necessary to prove His love for us, God sends His Son to shove us out of the way and get hit full force by the SUV.


God surprises us by using us by moving us to action. A similar thing happened to me years ago, though not with the peril involved in this story. With an
hour to spare, I rushed into a store to get a clothing article I forgot to pack for a holiday dinner, and had to absolutely wear that night. Rushing in, I noticed a little child crying and looking desperately around. I almost grabbed the child, took her over to the clerk busy with another customer, butted in, and said this child is lost, please do something (I was in a hurry!). Well, the clerk paged, and sure enough the mother showed up, took the child, lectured the little one, and never said thank you. Doesn't matter, child saved. But I also thought at the time, aha, God brought me at just the right time to do something good. What a privilege!

Chris Clukey


No danger of you being seen as self-promoting, IMHO. Not only did you do what any adult with a drop each of courage and compassion would do. Still, though that Dad didn't pat you on the back, I will. Nicely done.

This reminds me of an incident that happened to my family. We were at a home improvement store, and my young daughter (barely more than a toddler) ran away from me. It took me some time to figure out which aisle she had gone down, but when I did my fears were confirmed. She was headed toward the side entrance, which led out into the mall. The good news was, there was a cashier working the register by that door. She'd stop my girl...problem solved.

I watched, shocked, as the cashier, never looking in my direction (so I know she wasn't counting on me to catch the kid) watched my daughter run past her and barely even blinked at the sight. I don't recall what I said to her as I went past her (I may not have said anything at all...or I may have said "DOES NOT COMPUTE") but after using my parade ground voice to call my daughter back to the entrance, I appproached the cashier and asked why she hadn't stopped a small child headed out alone into a busy mall.

She told me it wasn't her job. She seemed irritated that I thought it was.

I went to the service desk. The manager on duty told me it wasn't the cashier's job to grab my daughter or even say anything to her. He seemed even more irritated that I thought it was.

A few hours later I called the store and got the general manager. I can only describe his reaction to my tale as horrified. I suspect that the two store employees from Bizarro world I'd spoken to earlier in the day did not have a nice time when he got to them.

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