Why by do I always get in the check-out lane that has a problem? This time the checker was a trainee. His trainer, a pretty girl whose face was pinched with the strain of her patience, was meticulously checking each price entry he made. Trying to restrain my own impatience, I dug in my purse for my shopping list. I had spent too much time in this hobby store. Thinking of the other stores I wanted to go to, I noticed it was already dark outside.
"That comes to $34.17," she said.
Though I had bought the least expensive of the choices, the total was still more than I should have spent. I'm supposed to watch my budget better than this, I thought, as I tucked the receipt into my purse. I picked up my two small plastic bags of Christmas tree decorations and walked to my husband's worn but faithful '87 Sentra.
I set the bags on the passenger seat and drove to the grocery store. I got out, leaving the car unlocked, as I normally do. Then I hesitated. A thought grazed my mind. What if someone should steal those bags?
That is ridiculous, I thought. Who would expect anything worth stealing in this old car? Besides, it's so dark no one would see the bags anyway.
When I returned to the car with my groceries, the bags were gone.
"I can't believe it!" I slapped my palms on the steering wheel. With disgust, I thought about the person who would steal Christmas decorations. Well, there was no use broiling in my anger, I reflected. I knew God would fix whoever had been so brazen.
Immediately, I felt chagrin for having ignored the Holy Spirit's prompting to protect those bags.
"I'm so sorry I was careless with your things, Lord," I said in genuine repentance.
Wearily, I finished my other shopping before returning to the hobby store to purchase more of the same items. I had my cart half full when I spied the girl who had been training the checker.
"Do you remember me?" I asked. "I was here earlier buying these things. Now, I'm back because someone stole them from my car."
"No, I don't remember you," she said. Then, peering into my cart, she exclaimed, "It's the same stuff!" Turning, she headed to the back of the store. "Wait here," she called over her shoulder. "My manager needs to talk to you!"
Soon she returned with a tall, young man. "Are you buying these things?" he asked.
"Yes, I am," I said, and told him what had happened.
"A woman was in here just a little while ago trying to return these items. She insisted that she had just been through the line.
"Is she still here?"
"No, she left. They always get nervous when you ask them about the receipt. She said she would be back tomorrow." He looked at the items in my cart. "Well, I have your stuff."
Did I hear right?
"I have your stuff," he repeated.
"Well, I have the receipt." I dug into my purse and produced the proof of purchase.
'The manager examined the receipt. "Wait here. I'll he back with your stuff."
"Oh, thank you, Lord!" I burst out, "God took care of me. God watched out for me!"
Smiling, the checker returned to her register. People in line looked in my direction. They could not know that the geyser of joy springing from my heart was only partially due to having my things restored. The overwhelming sense that God keeps charge over all that concerns me caused that fountain.
I winged home. I briskly hung the lights, the ornaments, and last of all, the plastic crystal star. At that moment, my three children arrived home. They squealed with delight when they saw the newly adorned tree.
"Listen! Let me tell you what God did for us tonight!" After I related the story, we gave thanks and admired the tree. The decorations were the cheapest the store offered, but to me they will always be priceless.