“If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little one because
he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
- Matthew 10:42
Last Monday—after waiting in line for over an hour for toilet paper at Target—I found myself longing to return to the big box store later that day. Why? Am I a glutton for punishment? No. I wanted to return to the hullaballoo because of the amazing thing God had taught me while I was there.
Shortly before 7 a.m., I arrived at the Apple Valley Super Target, and I took my place in line outside the store. There were about 50 people lined up in front of me. I said to myself, “Under the circumstances, this line isn’t that bad.” But after entering the store, grabbing a shopping cart, and making my way to the toilet paper aisle, I learned that there was a second line forming inside the store. Of the 50 people who had been ahead of me in line outside, around 40 of them had already formed a line for toilet paper inside.
And wouldn’t you know it! The line was at a standstill. There wasn’t a single package of toilet paper on the shelves, but the Target team members assured us that toilet paper would be trickling in as it arrived. So, we waited. And waited. And waited.
Surprisingly, the one-hour wait was quite entertaining. The two young ladies in front of me in line were wearing double-barreled gas masks and giggling as they held up their cell phones to take selfies and make video calls to their boyfriends. And after a few minutes in line, I turned around and began talking with the middle-aged man standing behind me as well as the two chatty ladies in line behind him. It quickly became clear that these two ladies were strong Christians who attended church regularly and trusted in Jesus Christ to see them through these troubled times.
After about ten minutes in the standstill line, I thought to myself, “I might as well get some other shopping done.” So, I asked my three new friends in line if they’d mind holding my place for me while I grabbed some eggs. They quickly agreed, so I offered to grab some eggs for them as well. After a few minutes I returned to my cart---still no movement in the line. So, I left the line a second time to grab a few more items. Over the next 40 minutes I left the line an additional three or four times.
Finally, I reached the front of the toilet paper line, and there was just one package left. I felt bad taking the last package, because I knew that the man behind me in line had been, like me, waiting for an hour. And I knew that he had an appointment to get to, and he wouldn’t have time to wait the 20-30 minutes for the next shipment to arrive.
So, without giving it much thought, I tore open my newly-acquired package of toilet paper and gave him a couple rolls. You wouldn’t believe the sounds of shock that came from the crowd behind me. It was as if I had just handed him two gold bars. The man offered to pay me for the entire package, but I said, “Don’t worry about it!” as I made my way to the checkout line.
After waiting in the checkout line for a minute or two, a Target manager asked me to step into a closed checkout line, and she began to ring me up. She said, “I saw what you did. Thank you for taking care of one of our guests.” I stood there in disbelief as she gave me free plastic bags for my groceries, plus a 10% discount on my entire order.
As I pushed my cart out the door, tears welled up in my eyes. The Lord had revealed to me this simple truth: During this coronavirus pandemic—as millions of our fellow Americans are running around in fear like chickens with their heads cut off—simple acts of kindness will carry a much greater impact than usual. As followers of Jesus Christ head to Target, WalMart, Costco, Stater Bros., and WinCo and carry out simple acts of kindness and love in Jesus’ name, people’s hearts will be touched in a way that they wouldn’t normally be touched.
Never forget, followers of Christ, that God never wastes anything. On so many different levels, this coronavirus pandemic is a stress-producing nightmare. But we serve a God who specializes in bringing life and goodness out of the ashes. We serve a God who works “all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
So, in the days to come—as you venture out from your home and cross the paths of perfect strangers at the store, at work, or at your favorite drive-thru—please be kind. Be compassionate. Be patient. And allow every word that you speak and every action you carry out to communicate this peace-giving message: “It’s going to be okay. If we trust in God, He will see us through.”
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. During this COVID-19 outbreak, please join us for our online worship service Sundays at 10 a.m. Simply go to www.GreaterImpact.cc to view the service on our homepage.