You don’t have to try to force things to happen. Stay faithful and you will walk into God’s blessings for your life. ~Spiritual Inspiration
I love a good story. I love a good God story even more and the one I got to be a part of today will, I am sure, continue to unfold. You could call it a series of random events or view it through the lens of being orchestrated by God’s almighty hand. I prefer the latter. I have already told this so many times today and hope that in writing it down it doesn’t betray the magic of the story.
The morning started typically enough with a two hour delay for school. (With the weather we are having that has become the norm.) I also had to have my monthly blood test today and had an afternoon appointment for work. The facility where I get my blood tested is very close to a Target and it’s become my reward after being jabbed to wander the isles of Target looking for clearance deals.
Today, as I was near the front of the store, I glanced over at the ATM and saw money sticking out of it. I couldn’t quite believe what I was seeing and looked around for the person that it belonged to. No one was anywhere even close! I walked down the isle and pulled the stack of bills out of the machine and continued to look for the person who frantically must be missing what I determined to be $200!
After 10 minutes of wandering and waiting, I had to leave. I didn’t turn the money in. The cynic in me was afraid once I turned it in it would disappear. As I left, I kept looking over my shoulder for a camera and waiting for the “What would you do?” host to pop up and ask why I didn’t turn the money in. I also felt a little like a thief, while wondering at the same time if it was my lucky day. My plan was to call Target after my appointment and ask if someone had reported any money missing. Then let them tell me how much and where. Almost three hours after I left, I called the store and was transferred around a few times. Finally I was connected with a manager who said indeed $200 had been lost near the ATM today and, in fact, the woman who lost it was standing in front of him right then. How is that for timing?!
She asked to speak to me, thanked me profusely, and proceeded to tell me a little about her week. She had been diagnosed with cancer on her face yesterday and then lost $200 today. She also told me that the whole way back to the store she was praying that someone would be honest and turn the money in. She was so overwhelmed and upset and completely blown away that I was calling to return the money, especially while she was standing right there. Random? Good luck? I tend to believe it is something a bit bigger. So we set a time up for me to drive back the 45 min to the store. As I was retelling the story for the first time, I was urged to give her one of my books, Run and Be Still. After giving it some thought, it seemed after the week she was having it might provide some comfort and encouragement, so why not?
She was waiting at the door when my daughter and I walked in. She hugged me as if I was a long lost friend and thanked me at least a dozen times for returning her money. We signed the proper forms that the store required through their lost and found and continued to talk and share. I did give her my book and she teared up while the store manager looked on and didn’t quite know what to make of us. She entertained me by telling me about how she had the other store employees looking through her purse for her and patting her pockets down to make sure she didn’t put the money somewhere and just couldn’t find it. She said she felt like she was losing her mind and didn’t trust herself to have not overlooked it. I have had days like that too! (I have been known to look for things that I am holding in my hand…I am not proud.)
I had to ask her the burning question that I had and that was of course, “How do you walk away from your money in the ATM?” She laughed and told me it never came out while she was standing there. She waited and waited, got her receipt, figured it wasn’t working and walked away. It must have been on some kind of delay. At this point, I began to sense even deeper that our meeting wasn’t just happenstance. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways. She walked out the door and I had a couple of things to pick up. I grabbed snacks for the kids, checked out, and got in line at Starbucks for what I deemed was a necessary afternoon treat.
I glanced over at customer service and saw my new friend looking through her purse and my immediate thought was “Poor woman. Did she lose her car keys now?” The employee she was talking to pointed her in my direction and she came over with my book in her hand, obviously in disbelief and said, “You wrote this? You really wrote this?” I assured her I did and she wanted to know how long it had been out and then she asked for my phone number. She said she was going to read the book tonight and wanted a way to be in contact. As best I can figure, she went to her car, read the book jacket, and had come back in to try to find me or a way to get ahold of me. It seems that the book struck a chord with her. I guess this story is to be continued but God has orchestrated an amazing beginning.
You know, I could have just claimed finders keepers. I could have said, “Thanks God for the sudden cash flow.” I could have tried to convince myself that it was ok. That it was all right. But I didn’t and the story I have tonight is such an amazing beginning. So much cooler, and immensely more gratifying than $200 could ever be.
God knew exactly what I needed today. I needed to see Him. I have been working on living, as one dear friend has said, within the confines of today, and looking for Him in today, in the big and the small. This is sometimes so frustrating because on the mundane, typical day in the life of Ashley Cunningham, I don’t feel like I can always find Him. On the house-bound-snow-days when I am drowning in laundry and dirty dishes, I don’t feel the sparkly freshness of God moments. That’s not to say He isn’t there. I know He is and I know life is sometimes mundane and typical. But God also knows that I am struggling with a need to continue to share my story. A need to understand the plans He has for my book. Ten years in the making, a surprise publisher that came looking for me, a speedy publication process, and now a beautiful finished product that I hold in my hands and wonder, “What now?” How do I get God’s message of hope, peace, and comfort from my hands into the hearts of those who need it most? This question has been so heavy on my mind and heart and then God shows up at Target with $200 that needs to be returned to a woman who needs more than just the money. She needs Him!
Isn’t it awesome when God injects some amazing into the middle of the typical just when we need it most? Feeling truly blessed tonight…
To be continued.