I had to run a late night errand at Wal-Mart after work on Wednesday. I picked the “Speedy Checkout” line, with the theory that , with everyone who enters the line being limited to 20 items or less, I should be out the door...well, let's just say speedily.
I should have checked my recent history, because God doesn't listen to my plans. He laughs at them.
As I waited (and waited, and waited) I decided to strike up a conversation with the guy behind me. It occurred to me that God was probably holding up the line so I could talk to him. I had chickened out at first, not knowing what the opening line should be. I had thought to start with a comment about his girlfriend (whom he had just kissed after telling her where an item was she couldn't find), but I decided not to because it would just be too awkward. Then I got a bright idea: comment about the long wait in the "speedy" line! Duh!
It worked. (God is so clever.) I gave him the Good Person Test, in the spirit of “might as well, 'cuz we ain't goin' nowhere,” and he took it, failed it, couldn't find a solution for Judgment Day, and let me tell him the Good News. He was taking it all in very carefully, very thoughtfully.
Then his girlfriend came back from not picking up whatever it was she went to find. I gave her the test, too. She thought she had a solution for Judgment Day (“Stop hating people?”), but I pointed out to her (as I had pointed out to him) that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it on the Day of Judgment. “So, even if you could be perfect from this day forward, you still have all the things that you just admitted to me to answer for on Judgment Day.”
“I guess it's a good thing I go to confession.” Now right here is where I used to trip up. I would argue with people about whether or not this Catholic rite is even valid. But this time God gave me a better idea.
“Well, why would God forgive you?”
“Um, because you have to be sorry for your sins.”
“It's true you should be sorry. But, even if you are sorry, why would God forgive you?”
“Because He's a merciful God.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because He said so.”
“How did He prove that?”
“You don't have to prove it, you just take it by faith.”
“No, but God did something to prove that He's a forgiving God.”
“Oh, He sent Jesus to die for our sins.”
“That's the answer I was looking for!”
“Yeah, I took CCD!” (I'm assuming that means something to Catholics, but I have no clue what it stands for.)
“Spoken like a true Catholic,” her boyfriend commented.
“Jesus also said something else: 'Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.' [I know, I butchered the KJV of Luke 13:3, but the meaning is the same, so who cares?] If we love our sins unto death, we will receive eternal damnation. If we turn away from our sins, God will give us eternal life.”
“Definitely something to think about tonight.”
I paid for my item (yeah, one item) and bid them good night. I guess my hatred for Wal-Mart will have to end at some point. Thanks for praying for Seth and his girlfriend (I didn't get her name).