Sometimes it takes thinking about a certain event a second or even third time to clearly see details that may have been missed the first. Here is a personal story about that.
I ran some errands with my daughter and grandsons the other day. First off, when I arrived to pick them up, I realized that I did not have the 4 year old’s car seat with me. So, I had to drive back home and retrieve it from the garage. Oh well, another thirty minutes gone, but not a problem as I was finished working and we were not on a time schedule.
We had several places to go that day, so first, we headed out to good ole Walmart. You know, Walmart, where everyone shops and since it was the end of November, guess what they were doing? Yes, Christmas shopping was in full swing. People everywhere with cars zig zagging in and out of the parking lot continuously.
My daughter was sporting a “boot” on her left foot as the result of a shopping cart incident at her place of employment and her two little boys were in the back seat chattering and being silly, one 9 years old and the other as previously mentioned 4.
Foolish me, I take the isle in the parking lot that is the most popular, right in front of the doors, hoping to find a close space. Just when I thought I was never going to find one there it was, the space right after the the ones designated for disabled folks. Yay, we all pile out and head into the store.
With the boys hanging off the end and side of the shopping cart off we go on our separate ways, me with the boys and my daughter to do some Christmas “business” without the little ones tagging along.
I grabbed several items that I needed, including butter, we always need more butter! As the boys were walking ahead of me and the cart I was pushing, we passed many people along the way. Interestingly, my eyes fixed on the face of an older gentleman who was walking by me. He was wearing navy blue dress pants and a light blue button down shirt and over that was a military winter jacket. He was well groomed with closely clipped beautiful white hair. His jacket was full of patches representing his extensive career serving our country. Without thinking, I made eye contact with him and said hello as I passed. I really didn’t give him time to answer as I was following the boys and quickly reassigned my attention to them.
We finished up with our shopping having traveled most of the store and headed to the check out. The “self check out” experience went amazingly smooth this time and we headed to the car to wait for their Mom to join us.
We had just gotten into our seats when I looked up to see the old soldier approaching. His car was parked right beside ours. He took a glance our way and got into his car, preparing to leave. I spoke to the boys and told them to take notice of this man, that he was a soldier and had served in the military years ago and obviously was a long time veteran who may have been in several wars and that he may have seen awful things and deserved our respect for his service. As I was speaking I looked back and saw my 9 year old grandson giving the old soldier a salute. He held his hand above his eye as the old soldier looked at me. I smiled at him and then he looked to the back seat of my car and returned the salute. I could have cried! My grandsons were very taken with his gesture as was I. “That’s how you show respect to those who have served our country,” I told them. We drove away with a warm comfort in knowing that we had taken the time to engage an old gentleman and had paused to acknowledge him.
So, was it a coincidence that I forgot the car seat that made us thirty minutes late? Was it a coincidence that I took my eyes off my grandsons for a second in order to engage an old soldier passing by me in Walmart? Was a coincidence that I “just happened” to “find” a parking space near the ones with the stamped wheel chairs on the signs. Maybe, and maybe not. You can decide that for yourself. I happen to think that when we pray in the morning to cover our day, and ask the Lord to help us be more like Him that He may just set in our pathway and old soldier that needed to be acknowledged by a little boy. Maybe he needed to hear a friendly hello. Just maybe his day was made by these small encounters. I sure do hope so!
Or perhaps this was one of those “angels unaware” encounters, that was set before us. Perhaps even , as we took pause and like one of my teacher friends says, were “boots on the ground” Christians to an old soldier who was walking the isles of Walmart alone, we left a mark that will only be revealed when we are face to face with Him. Perhaps this one time we were like Jesus, the only One who really sees inside our hearts. Again, I sure do hope so!