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Church or Shopping?
by Brenda Bates
Not For Sale
Author requests article critique


Church Or Shopping?

Sunday mornings are very special to my husband and me. We get up early because we have a 20-mile drive to attend the church we love. Along the way, we enjoy the view of the Rocky Mountains and sometimes catch the hot air balloons that fill the sky with brilliant colors and patterns from the open fields along the way. We also enjoy our time at church greeting old friends and making new. And of course we love hearing the morning message.

Our neighbor on the other hand is a shopping maniac. Every Sunday morning she gets up early, runs out to the driveway in her pale pink bathrobe to gather the Sunday paper. She will rummage through the sale ads checking prices and analyzing them to make sure that she gets the most for her dollar. (She has the energy of a child and reminds me of one of those ďShop Until You DropĒ shoppers. Iím only good for a quick grocery store visit or perhaps to the mall if I know exactly what I need to buy and what store I can find it in. Sorry ladies but I really dislike shopping.)

Without fail we leave about the same time each Sunday. This is how the conversation goes:

Neighbor: Morning Brenda, beautiful day!
Me: Yes it is. Where are you going? (As if I do not already know)
Neighbor: Going to the mall, (such and such) is having a sale on (whatever). Do you want to come along?
Me: Oh no thanks; weíre going to church Ė perhaps another time.
Neighbor: Ok, have a great day!
Me: You too!

Week after week we went through the same conversation. Let me tell you how my maniac shopping neighbor changed my life forever. It went like this:

Neighbor: Morning Brenda, beautiful day.
Me: Yes it is. Are you headed to the mall?
Neighbor: Yes, (such and such) is having a sale on (whatever). Youíre welcomed to come along.
Me: No thanks; weíre going to church Ė perhaps another time.
Neighbor: Can I ask you a question?
Me: Of course.
Neighbor: Excuse for asking this but every Sunday we meet out here around the same time. Each Sunday you tell me youíre going to church and each Sunday I tell you Iím going shopping. Why is that every Sunday I invite you to go shopping with me but you have yet to invite me to go to church with you?
Me: (Stunned and ashamed) Iím so sorry; I guess I just assumed that you would rather go shopping than to church.
Neighbor: (with much enthusiasm) I can go shopping anytime. The sales always last through the week. I choose Sundayís to go because I donít have a church to attend. I would love to go if I had someone to go with me.
Me: Youíre welcomed to come with us.
Neighbor: Then itís a date. Iíll look forward to next Sunday.
Me: Itís a date!

The sermon that Sunday was from the driveway instead of the pulpit. Donít ever think you know what is in someone elseís heart.

Heavenly Father we praise you for this day. I confess that I do not always see the opportunities that you give me to witness to others. It is much easier for me to go about my business, perhaps judging people rather than to take the time to truly get to know what is in their heart.

Thank You for sending an angel to me today to remind me that I don't have it all figured out and that I don't always serve You first. Thank You for helping me to see myself through the eyes of others. Thank You for delivering that message from someone who is forgiving versus someone who would judge me and hold a grudge. I learned today that my maniac shopping neighbor has more of You in her heart than I do at times. Fill me with Your spirit Lord so that I can be more like You and more like her. This I pray in Jesus precious Holy Name. Amen.

Sometimes we need to take a moment to look into a mirror. Is the reflection you see that of yourself or that of Jesus?

If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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