The Lord provides blessings in the most unexpected ways.
Last night around 9:30 I was returning home after a 12 hour day, which ended with our weekly ministry to the children in our neighborhood. Briefly, this is something like trying to establish an orderly ministry on Peter Pan's Island, or under the direction of The Lord of the Flies. So, I was exhausted.
I stopped at the local grocery store for a couple things, and as I was checking out noticed that the checker had a hand-written note pinned to her apron. It read simply "Philippians 1:20-25". There was no one else in line so I said, "I'm straining to recall what that section of Philippians is about." Her eyes twinkled and she related a gist version of the following:
20 For I fully expect and hope that I will never be ashamed, but that I will continue to be bold for Christ, as I have been in the past. And I trust that my life will bring honor to Christ, whether I live or die. 21 For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. 22 But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don't know which is better. 23 I'm torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. 24 But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. 25 Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith. [NLT]
I then asked her, why this passage was meaningful to her. She said that people [assuming Christians] need to be more focused on living for Christ than themselves. And, that they need to be out ministering to other people.
I had to hold back the tears, because I knew that was an encouraging word from the Lord. And, to encourage her, I told her how blessed I was by what she said, because I was just returning from a difficult evening of ministry. The checker smiled brightly and said "Yes! That's what I'm talking about. That's great that you want to do that." But I corrected her and said, "No. I don't WANT to do it, unfortunately. I'm just being obedient." "Good, that's even better - keep it up!" She replied enthusiastically, and then welcomed the next customer who walked up to the register.
I rarely find bumper stickers and buttons that people wear to be of much influence, but that little note the checker had pinned on was a great blessing. I had entered the grocery store worn, haggard, and depressed. I left the store in joy feeling like Jesus walked up smiling and patted me on the back saying, "Stop feeling sorry for yourself! Everything is fine. You're doing a good job - just keep going."