Monday, October 13, 2014
Two very different Christian bookstore visits
The man took the bus to the bookstore and went in to shop for a Bible. While looking at Bibles, a woman shopping struck up a conversation with him and heard his story. I believe she helped him pick out a Bible and went on her way. When he took the Bible to the counter to pay for it, he found out she had paid for the Bible and also paid for it to be imprinted with his name. The experience made an impression on him and he became a Christian and went on to attend my friend's large church in the area, always wishing he could meet that lady again and thank her and let her know how much he had changed.
At some point, he had related the story to his pastor, who somehow figured out the lady attended the same church, and put them in contact with each other. The story, with more details than I know, was related at last Sunday's morning worship service and brought much tears from the congregation.
As my friend related the story, another story came to my mind, also true, and also involving a visit to a Christian bookstore. This story has no happy ending, and has no changed life. I have shared it before, but it bears repeating.
It seems there was a young man who was down on his luck, and had a lot of bad things going for him in life. As a last ditch effort, he walked into a Christian bookstore and wandered around for a while, hoping someone would talk to him and offer him some hope. As he wandered around, no one approached him, no one talked to him. He left the store, went home and wrote a suicide note, and killed himself.
I am not saying it was anyone's fault he killed himself. It was his choice. But what if someone had engaged him in conversation enough to show some concern, to offer help or prayer? What if? A life may have been saved and changed, instead of cut short by his own hand.
How many people do we pass by who are dying for a kind word, for someone to care, to offer them a smile and listen.
But we are too busy, too involved with ourselves to pay attention.
In the two stories above, I know who I'd rather be. I'd rather be the kind person who lent a helping hand and listening ear, and not the store employees and shoppers who passed over a desperate young man. It may not be buying a Bible. It might mean buying a cup of coffee, a bus ticket, or just listening and praying.
Do we care enough?