Robin Schenck - 09/25/2007
Last Thursday, I took the old Buick to Super Wal-Mart to get some stuff. I wandered around the store and picked up my usual consumables and a bulletin board, some thumb tacks, printer paper. I had a taste for hotdogs that day, so I picked up some whole wheat buns and sauerkraut too. I saw a bin of fresh corn on the cob, so I got six ears of that. I was having a grand day off from work, just walking around enjoying the abundance of Wal-Mart, smiling and chatting with other customers here and there. Such a happy heart I had that morning. I then went to the checkout. When it was my turn, I put my things onto the conveyor belt and the clerk scanned my things, bagged them, we put them in my cart and I left the store.
When I got to my car I loaded the infernal white plastic bags into my car's trunk and when all the bags were out of the cart I noticed the little plastic package of thumb tacks was wedged between the bottom of the child seat of my cart and the left side wall of the cart. I checked my receipt and found I had not paid for them since I had not seen them there and neglected to put them on the conveyor for checkout. I walked back into the store and decided to go back to the clerk who'd checked out my stuff. There were two other women at that checkout and one was almost done. I got in line. When the next woman was up to the clerk I decided to ask her if I could quickly go before her for this one item. Surprisingly the woman said, No. Go to the self-checkout machine; that's what it's for. I was shocked. The clerk was shocked. I'd quickly explained to the clerk I had come back in because we'd forgotten the thumb tacks. The woman in front of me was quietly furious, quietly having a very bad day. I told her I'd just wait, that I just did not want to use the auto checkout. As the clerk looked at me and was shaking her head in disbelief and I stood there being seriously embarrassed and with my "human dignity" rising up in my chest, shoulders, neck and head, I decided to keep quiet and just observe this woman. She was clearly uncomfortable and was saying very quietly that, "I'm doing this for me today. This is for me". I took note of the woman's skin coloration. It was a grayish-white pallor. Clearly, I began to realize, this woman was under extreme duress. I began to think about what her day or previous night may have been like. Mostly I was just greatly annoyed and pretty shocked, trying to regain my composure. I and the clerk kept looking back and forth at each other and the irate woman as she was being served by the clerk. When that woman left and it was now my rightful place and turn to check out my one little item which I'd brought back in to the same clerk so she could see how honest I was, the clerk and I discussed the little incident. We decided that the gray lady was having an extremely bad day; that she probably had just one too many people demanding her time, resources, attention, and she'd finally had it over her head. No. Not one more person can demand anything of me, she telepathically instant messaged us all.
I paid for my thumb tacks and walked back to my car, still stung and steaming, embarrassed, stunned, however, with the realization creeping very subliminally up on me that I could have spoken words of blessing on that woman somehow instead of being so annoyed. I calmed down as I drove home, gradually becoming more concerned for her. By the time I walked in my front door back at home I began to pray for that woman, that the Lord would separate from her all those who had demanded much too much of mom/wife/coworker/boss/friend/always helpful/chronic giver/never taker. "Just bless her and separate the wicked and chronically needy from her, Lord Jesus", I prayed.
On Friday morning I was up to John 13 and 14 for the day. I read through the chapters slowly and came to a verse the whole chapter of which I'd committed to memory two or three years ago, part of which says as follows: "If ye shall ask me anything in my name, that will I do". I thought, now David E. says "name" means nature, character and authority. I thought, hmm ..., what is an example of Christ's nature? I turned back to John 13 and scanned. Right away verses 2 through 5 were before my eyes. I read: "...knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands (Ahh, there's Christ's authority ), and (knowing) that he came forth from God, and (knowing that he) goeth unto God, he riseth from supper, and layeth aside his garments; and he took a towel, and girded himself. Then he poureth water into the basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded". And there is His nature. After Jesus finished with this stunningly humble act, "When therefore he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and reclined again, he said to them, Know ye not what I have done to you?" I began to think soberly once again about this man-child Jesus. Such serenity.
As I pondered that morning there at my table these magnificent words, I asked my Father this question: Exactly what dignity is it we humans try to defend when we refuse to, for example, forgive, or refuse to help, or refuse help from, or are persecuted, put down, etc.? I finished my quiet time and went out of the room with that question ringing in my head, to think about it throughout the day. A few minutes later I was in my car driving to go out to do errands. I sat at the steering wheel and asked the Lord again about that dignity we try so hard to rescue, defend, protect from attack. What, Lord, is this dignity? As I sat quietly waiting for my car to warm up a little, the Holy Spirit wafted the answer to my soul: PRIDE
I think I knew it was pride, but I was rejecting that thought for a less self-accusatory and less damning, more humanitarian idea. We humans, I've always been taught, have human dignity; we must be kind and not offend, and defend our human dignity, our p-r-i-d-e, when we are unjustly attacked, brusquely treated or mistreated in any way.
I remembered how offended I was not too long ago, just this year, by a woman who came to the ministry for help, and how I'd been such a listening ear for her and became a friend to her, etc., and then came to realize the whole time she was lying and stealing from me and my other friends in the ministry whom I'd introduced her to. How offended and angry I was about all that. David told me I did not need to be offended, not to be offended, but to forgive, forgive, forgive.
As I thought about Jesus' humble act of washing those burly men's feet, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he came forth from God, and goeth unto God, I realized that Jesus could do what He did because He was so totally devoid of pride THOUGH HE KNEW GOOD AND WELL WHO HE IS. He is the King of kings, Lord of lords, and ALL THINGS are now given into His hands. He is rich beyond all understanding and beyond all measure. He can afford to take all the offence. And so must we. We can afford all the persecution, all the pounding the world will throw at us without one tiny shred of pride and its little child humiliation. It's not that it doesn't "hurt" us. But it does not own us and wrap us up in its constricting embrace for the next five years or so.
We the man-child, bride, two witnesses corporate bodies, can afford to take all the persecution and ill treatment in the world that can, does and will come our way when we accept the fact that we are the children of the Most High, that human dignity is just a thinly veiled disguise for the worst crime against God - Pride, when we recall every hour of every day that Jesus our Lord, the One who sends us out into the world to work for Him as apostles, etc., said, "Truly, Truly, I say unto you, A bondman is not greater than his lord; neither an apostle greater than he who sent him. If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them. I am the Good Shepherd. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me".
David is right, we do not have to take up the old man's attitude and be offended by those who offend us. No one can permanently hurt us really if we accept this fact: that Christ is the only One with true dignity. We can afford to be kind, longsuffering, meek, gentle, loving, joyous always, at peace and peaceful, faithful to difficult people as well as comfortable people, and self-controlled. "Abide in me, and I in you. If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments. I know whom I chose. A soft answer turneth away wrath".
I feel as though I will never be offended again, at least not like I used to be. It's a lot easier to forgive since Thursday and Friday's lessons.