“…so he asked Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” Luke 10:29
Today, I grudgingly drove to my least favorite place on earth – my local Walmart. I mean no offense to Walmart employees or fellow patrons, but I try to avoid that place at all costs. It always seems as though everyone in the store (myself included) wants to be somewhere else – anywhere else. I’m constantly dodging carts or shooing my kids out of harm’s way, typically in the form of an old lady on a motorized scooter, bent for her bran flakes.
And really, couldn’t they open up more than three of those eighty-seven checkout lanes?!
In one of those purgatorial lanes, I waited. On another day, I may have occupied my time by checking Facebook or simply staring into space. For some reason, today I noticed the gentleman behind me in line. He was elderly, and was using one of the seated, motorized shopping carts for assistance. He looked tired, and I had a feeling it may be difficult for him to unload his own cart. So I asked if it would be helpful if I unloaded his cart for him. This caught him off guard, but after a moment he said, “That would be great.”
We struck up a conversation about the spring weather and the items we were purchasing; he urged me to try Diet Dr. Pepper, while I sang the praises of my Keurig coffee pods. Somehow, our conversation led to his telling me about the difficult year he had been through. He had open heart surgery, and for months he hadn’t cared whether he lived or died. Now that it was spring, he was happy to be feeling better and grateful to be able to work outside.
When I was finished unloading his cart, he thanked me and told me, “You are just as sweet as you look.” (It should be noted this was quite a stretch, since I was wearing dirty sweats and a baseball cap, but I’ll accept the compliment!) We wished each other well, and parted, each better for having met the other.
I had been feeling sort of down myself that day, preoccupied with worry about my own upcoming surgery and care-worn over one of my boys. It would have been so easy for me to ignore the other soul in the check-out line with me. I am grateful that the Lord drew me out of myself and into relationship with a stranger – my neighbor.
St. Paul tells the Romans, “Let each of us please our neighbor for the good, for building up” (Romans 15:2). Friends, we need each other – now, more than ever. Today, I encountered Christ in this elderly gentleman. And the Lord allowed me the opportunity to show Christ to him. Thanks be to God.