That’s how much the cash register showed at 10 p.m. that night at the grocery store.
I watched as the man in front of me asked the cashier to put things to the side. Over and over again.
He kept swiping his card. Declined.
He was already buying the bare minimum.
There was a girl and boy with him, and I heard them call him “Dad” several times.
The girl was a pre-teen, and the boy was about my son’s age. I could see the embarrassment written all over their faces.
It was a week or two after Thanksgiving, and I wondered what they had eaten for the holiday so focused on food.
The cashier put cans of tuna, boxes of pasta, bananas, and apples under the counter.
I wondered if he was a single dad. The lack of a ring on his finger gave me suspect to believe so.
Then suddenly, I felt it.
It was like a gentle shove on the back and a mild electric shock to my heart.
Pay for these groceries.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the money . . . I’ll provide. Trust Me.
I heard God loud and clear.
I started to open my mouth . . . but what if I embarrass his family even more?
That still small voice called again.
Another shove. Stronger this time.
“I’ve got it,” I blurted out loudly, as heat flooded my face.
The store was empty, there was no one else in our line, and I watched this man slowly turn, his jaw dropped open.
I turned to the cashier.
“Please put everything back. I’ll get it all.”
“Are you sure?” the cashier said, with shock in her voice.
I nodded while looking at the girl and the boy. Their eyes were like saucers.
“Yes, absolutely. I can go ahead and swipe my card.”
I look at the dad. He’s crying now.
His daughter is hugging him.
Then I pay for my things as well. Praying God would cover it (He did).
The dad is waiting at the end of the lane. Still crying and hugging his precious children.
“I don’t know how to thank you,” he whispers.
“It’s OK. I wanted to help. I know it’s what God told me to do. And I have been there.” I replied quietly.
“I’m a single dad. It’s so hard,” he said.
I gave him a hug. His son and daughter wanted to hug me, too.
When I got to my car, the tears came flooding out.
I prayed and praised the Lord for allowing me to help. I asked God to give me more opportunities to be obedient and show the world the utter grace He has shown me.
Flash forward to February 23rd.
My family and I are sitting in church, and we had just finished the worship time when our Pastor was getting ready to preach.
I look to my left, and my stomach literally plummets to the ground. Then my heart begins to race.
At the end of our pew, sat the same dad and his two children.
They were right there, the only other people in our row.
In slow motion, I turn to my husband.
“That’s them,” I say into his ear. “That’s the dad and his kids from the grocery store that night, remember?”
I begin to sob. My skin is covered in goosebumps.
I never told him I was a Christian. I never even told him where I went to church.
I just obeyed God.
The same One who brought this Dad and his family to my church that Sunday.
It’s not about me.
Glory to the Lord God Almighty, great things HE hath done.
“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’” (Matthew 25:37-40).
This post originally appeared on Pacis In The Gutter – Sara Fleming