It happened to me again this past week for the umpteenth time. The last time it happened, I promised myself it would never happen again, as long as I lived. So much for my promises, or maybe I died.
I found myself stranded at the neighborhood grocery store. I meant to put gas in my car, honest I did. Somehow, it slipped my mind.
I do not mind things slipping my mind if they are not important, and if it does not involve the Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage. Unfortunately for me, this did.
I don’t mind lectures from my Beloved, if I could sometimes pick the topic. Topics like religion and politics would be a nice change.
Her topic, which she never tires of, is my forgetfulness. At least I can’t remember any other topic at the moment.
My car was definitely out of gas and I was going nowhere in it. My only recourse was to walk across the street to the store, and call my wife to come and bail me out of trouble.
Every husband knows how difficult this is because we have to do it so often. I went to the phone booth in the store and made “the call.” Then I went and took a seat to wait for her arrival.
As I was waiting, I noticed an elderly gentleman come into the store. I call him a gentleman, but these days, who knows?
This man walked into the store as if he was concerned about being followed. Every few steps he threw a glance over his shoulder as if someone was stalking him.
Since I did not have anything to do for the next 20 minutes, I settled back to watch. When he got into the store, he cautiously walked around the store as if casing it.
So many stores are being robbed; I didn’t know but this man was planning to pull off a heist. My interest piqued, which kept my mind off the trouble I was in with my wife when she arrived to pick me up.
When a person is in trouble, it is always a good thing to try to take one’s mind off said trouble, and on someone who might be in more trouble than you are at the moment. At least, that’s what I told myself at the time.
When a person is facing trouble, he will say anything to himself to calm those jagged nerves.
The man walked around the store several times, always glancing over his shoulder as if he expected something to happen.
As far as I could tell, he was an ordinary man with no special features. He walked with a slow shuffle, but that’s to be expected when a man’s body ages.
I saw him stand over against a corner for several minutes while he intently watched the front door. A little spooked by this time, I did not know if I should alert the manager or call the police.
I envisioned the headlines in the newspapers the next day: “Local pastor dies a hero’s death in the crossfire.” I sure would like to be a hero, but only in my own mind.
This hero business can be a little dangerous, so I was in a quandary.
In scanning the gentleman as best I could, I knew he could not have a large weapon on his person. The loose fitting shirt revealed no bomb strapped to his chest, which was a little comforting.
Then the gentleman began to move and I froze. My life flashed before me in an instant - which bored me almost to death. I never want to experience anything like that ever again.
My focus once again went to the gentleman in motion. What was he going to do? Gradually he eased up to the bakery department.
I almost stood, but at my height, I would be an easy target. It’s hard for anyone to miss a barn door, especially one with a flashy smile.
I braced myself for what would happen next. Then it happened. The elderly gentleman, with one last glance over his shoulder, bought a chocolate éclair.
I was confused - relieved - but confused. What was all the secrecy about?
About this time, I saw him slither toward the bench where I was sitting. Without looking at me, the man sank into the corner as though hiding from someone.
He sat there for a few minutes and then he opened his bag with the éclair. Just as he took his first bite, someone recognized him, came up and said, “Henry, is that a chocolate éclair you’re eating?”
He glanced at me and gave me one of those sick smiles that every husband recognizes. No matter how hard you try to keep something (like éclairs) from your wife, it is impossible.
There is a spiritual lesson here. No matter how hard you try to hide your sin, somewhere, somehow, when you least expect it, someone will see you.
An Old Testament scripture lays down an important principle in this regard. “But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the Lord: and be sure your sin will find you out.” (Numbers 32:23 KJV.)
David, the Psalmist, knew this and wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 KJV.)
Live your life as though someone was watching you, because, Someone is watching you.