Strong & BraveEvery once in awhile at my store I have the chance to have a conversation with a customer that is a little deeper than your typical clerk/customer interaction - one cool thing about working at a Christian-owned bookstore is that sometimes people just come in the store looking for a "refuge", or just needing to pray or talk with somebody.
This morning I had the chance to talk to a "regular" customer named Kevin. Kevin is forty-something years old, and is in a wheelchair. He is also one of the most outgoing people I have ever seen...in fact, he's so outgoing that it's made some of the staffers uncomfortable. He's never said anything inappropriate at all; he's just incredibly talkative and friendly, which sadly in our culture, we just aren't used to, I guess! He's been a customer for a year or two now, and every time he comes in he excitedly starts chatting about the inner city kids he works with at Hospitality House and how he gets to share Jesus with them. Then, without fail, he opens up his bag and pulls out his latest "tricks" and tools he uses to tell kids (and others) about Jesus...Bible verse cards, symbolic trinkets, etc. He'll go on and on about it all...in fact, he's so talkative that he tends to forget/ignore the line of people behind him at the check-out counter. :) I admit that for a long time I was in the "this guy is so talkative it makes me uncomfortable!" camp, so whenever he'd talk to me at the check out counter I tended to just smile and nod and hope that he would be on his way soon. The last couple times he's come into the store, though, I've sort of felt convicted about this. I started to wonder what his story was...as though God was sort of tapping me on the shoulder and saying "ahem, you could probably learn something from this guy's story!". So today he showed up in our music department, and (of course) immediately began talking my ear off. This time, however, I decided to engage in the conversation a little bit beyond just smiling and nodding. It ended up being a very interesting conversation. He started by telling me about a little card of verses he'd typed up and laminated and how he uses it to tell people about what Jesus has done in his life, and then he started telling me his story. Turns out he was in a skiing accident 7 years ago that left him a paraplegic. He was a chiropractor with 3 kids who were all under the age of 7 at the time. He also had a heart completely hardened to Christ...but his accident is what "broke" him, in more ways than one. He's now devoted his entire life to telling people about Christ in one way or another...one thing he said to me that stood out was "I've got nothing to lose". He also quoted this passage to me from Psalm 138 :
When I called out to you, you answered me.
You made me strong and brave.
4Lord, may all of the kings on earth praise you
when they hear about what you have promised.
5Lord, may they sing about what you have done,
because your glory is great.
What an inspiring little conversation that was. Here was a man who had every reason to be bitter or feel sorry for himself...but instead of self-pity, he radiated sheer joy. He told me that he experiences great pain and discomfort all the time - he wasn't in denial of the challenges of his plight - but he chooses every day to trust God and His purposes. Wow. What faith! I hope that encourages you as it does me...