God is the Author of My Story!
by Colleen Soldate, Director of Caring Ministries
Hoping you all made it a GREAT week. I trust that any obstacles have turned into set-ups for something GREATER.
I received a call from a clerk at Copperfield’s Books notifying me that the book I ordered, “Survival Guide for the Soul” had arrived. As I drove to Montgomery Village, a sense of excitement stirred within as I recalled how bookstores had a way of capturing my attention and could easily lose track of time while pouring over books. They were a place of possibilities where I can travel anywhere, learn about everything, and image the impossible.
Excitedly, I approached the store and noticed the main entrance had a table placed across the doorway with a big sign that read, “Pick Up, ring bell for service.” I have adapted reluctantly to this new way of picking up purchases at storefronts. Before I rang for service, a very nice clerk offered to assist me. I informed him I was there to pick up a book I had ordered and asked if they preferred cash or credit. He directed that if I were using cash, I would need to come inside the store to complete the transaction. I was surprised that the bookstore was open.
The prospect of being allowed physically inside the store spurred me to say that I would pay with cash. The clerk pointed me in the direction of a second entryway down by the bookstore coffee shop. Along the sidewalk were the usual 6-foot social distancing indicators, the usual roped off area to stand in line, as well as tables and chairs scattered about in the front of the store. That afternoon, I would experience three amazing blessings within my community.
The first blessing occurred as I headed toward the open door to the bookstore coffee shop, I was shocked to discover that there was no one in line behind whom to wait. I made my way cautiously into the store but felt a bit uncomfortable as I began to wonder if I had misunderstood and really should not be inside. I was reassured as I moved further into the store and saw the nice clerk who had originally waited on me. As I approached the counter, another clerk assisting a woman was conversing about a mystery series she had been inquiring about.
As the clerk was ready to ring up my purchase, his smiling eyes encouraged me to ask if it would be okay to look around. The second surprise appeared when I heard a muffled giggle under his mask as he invited me to take my time and enjoy. Without hesitation, I headed for the discount table. I always start at the sales table just to see what treasures I might find.
The final surprise arrived when I was perusing the books, one by one. A clerk’s voice drew my attention away from the books and toward his interaction with the lady he was helping who was sitting in a chair in front of the counter. It appeared the two were strangers by the formality of their conversation. The gracious employee spent a great deal of time repeating himself many times. With loving kindness, he assisted the customer through an exchange of ordering several books while researching various authors. He was gentle, patient, and treated her with the utmost respect, as if she were royalty. It was one of those beautiful
moments, Preston Paull, one of our Elders, refers to as “God Sightings.”
A quick trip to pick up a book ended with leaving the bookstore nourished by having witnessed God’s surprising moments of grace and refreshment. I was blessed to witness compassion and love in this manner, and the unexpected gift was met with water-eyed joy.
Walking to my car, I gazed at the names of the authors of the books I held in my hands. This quick errand reminded me that God wrote the story of my life and is still working on my character while He continues to hold me in His hands. He knew before I was born every thrill, joy, and sorrow I would encounter in my lifetime. I believe He placed me there, at that moment, not just to pick up a book but to slow me down long enough to enjoy the sacredness of the present moment.
My heart spills over with joy at the very thought that my story is written by God. It inspires me to look forward with hope rather than to look back with any regret. Each day, I try to walk in a new level of grace and gratitude that gives me peace and leaves me encouraged. I am not perfect by any standards, but I am intentional in being nourished daily by His Word, in praying more audaciously, and in stepping eagerly into the character God meant me to be, instead of who this world tries to mold me into. May you receive the gifts He so lovingly has awaiting you.
Until we are together again,