Thursday, August 21, 2008

Do Not Miss a Trick

I was recently in a Christian owned business that sells books. For the sake of confidentiality I will not disclose the name of the book store. I will only tell you that the store has the word family in it, there are Christians that work there and run the place, and these stores are usually found in malls, and they only sell all Christian books, knick knacks, and other worthless trinkets and candies.

Now, I have to be honest, I would rather order my books from Amazon than to set foot inside one of these places, because they make me angry and they are overpriced.

Anyway, I was looking for a Bible that I could take backpacking with me and this seemed like the only store in the mall that could help, though I really did not expect to find exactly what it is that I was looking for. I tried to keep a low profile and to just look around and get in and then get out when I heard the voice, “Can I help you?” “No you cannot help me.” I thought to myself, but I dared not speak it. “Please.” I said to myself, “Say nothing and be nice.” “Yes you can help.” I said. “I am looking for a Bible.” “What kind of Bible are you looking for?” she asked. I snapped inside, but I don’t think she saw it. She then went on, “We have all kinds of Bibles: small ones, big ones, paper back, hard cover, leather, study Bibles, KJV, RSV, KJV, The Message, NIV, NKJV, The New Living, glitter and gem covered, . . . and many more.” I was freaking inside, “I mean really, am I even on this planet right now.” I thought to myself.

I knew they did not have what I was looking for, and then I laughed that I was even in the store looking for what it was that I was looking for, and then I came clean, and I broke down a bit and said, “No, none of these will work. I am looking for a small Bible with both the Old and New Testaments in it, preferably not King James. It needs to be small, compact, and light weight, and it also has to be waterproof and flame resistant. Do you have anything like that?” To my surprise, she did not skip a beat. She handed me a small leather bound compact Bible with a cool cross etched into it. It had the Old and New Testaments in it, it was nice and pretty, it looked cool, and was light weight. It was near perfect, and as close as I was going to get. She assured me that the Bible was not waterproof and to her knowledge it was not flame resistant. I readied myself for my purchase.

Just as I was finishing up with this nice young lady and getting into the check out line, a girl walked in and sought the clerks help. “Do you have any tarot cards?” she asked. The young woman who had just been so helpful to me was shocked, visibly shocked. “What! What are you looking for?” she asked again. “Tarot cards.” the shy girl, who was obviously not from this country, replied. “Not here we don’t!” The clerk said. “You are in the wrong store, maybe you should go down the hall to the Borders. We don’t sell that kind of stuff here. Do you know what kind of store this is?” The girl was embarrassed and walked out quickly with her head held low. I was angry and disgusted and thought hateful things.

The clerk walked around the counter to ring up my purchases like nothing ever happened. She had on this plastic smile and asked if I found everything alright and if I needed anything else. “Nothing, I am good.” I replied. Just then two other employees came out from the back, one was overweight and was eating Jesus candies, sorry, this is just my honest observation and recollection. The clerk began telling them what had just happened to her: “You wouldn’t believe what just happened to me.” “What.” They replied. “You wouldn’t believe what someone came in here asking for.” “Molly Cyrus posters?” they replied. “No! Worse!” The clerk responded. “What?” they asked. “Tarot cards!” the clerk finally answered. “OH, MY GOD!” the girls said in unison. I wanted to puke and then kill someone. I know, “Thou shall not murder.” I thought about that and kept my cool. “What did you say?” the sales girls asked. “I told her we don’t sell that here. Then I asked, Do you know where you are? Then I sent her to Borders." “Good for you!” the girls replied.

As I stood there the young woman finished ringing me up and asked for my “Perks Card.” I told her I did not have it with me, but she insisted she look it up. I had to give her my old address and phone number from three years ago in order for her to find my information. She gave me my new total and handed me a brand new perks card. Apparently I saved over $80.00 and my total was around thirty bucks. I looked down at my perks card and to my shock it said “Pastors Perks.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. “I am a pastor, and these are my people!?!?” I was nauseous. All I could think about was this girl who was looking for her tarot cards. I wanted to run after her and say how sorry I was about how she was treated and that the store that she was in was about Jesus and I wanted to tell her what that really meant. I felt sad, paid the woman at the check out counter, and left with my head hung low. Borders was on my mind and everything that I should have said and done differently.

Paul hits the nail on the head and sums up the issue at hand in Colossians 4: 5-6. I could not say this better. Paul writes:

“Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, do not put them down, do not cut them out. ”

Peterson, Eugene H.: The Message : The Bible in Contemporary Language. Colorado Springs, Colo. : NavPress, 2002, S. Col 4:5-6

Hopefully not missing a future trick,


1 comment:

  1. Funny - I too have struggled with going to the Christian bookstore and paying their prices just to be supportive of a "Christian ministry" or going to B&N and paying less, or even ordering on line. It is so sad to hear how this girl missed such a wonderful opportunity and has forgotten that is why this store most likely was created - to reach those that might not know Jesus and to introduce them. There was no mistake in her walking in--God knew she was coming and it breaks my heart that she left probably never to return and drawn to the dark side. I wonder what I would have done? I keep hearing my favorite verse Romans 12:2 "do not be conformed to this world but be transformed." Christian businesses above all need to live that. And yet, God reminds me of what Paul says in Romans 2:1, which I tell my daughter nearly every day: that when we judge we need to apply that adage of pointing one finger and looking at how many are pointing back at us. I wonder how many times I have missed the opportunity to say something to someone who is so going down the wrong path, just because I was self righteous.
    Thanks for sharing this story. Made me look at myself.