Worship at the Church of JCPenney

  It always happens unexpectedly, doesn’t it?  Encounters with God have a way of interrupting life and creating a house of worship regardless of the surroundings or the building in which we stand. Today was one such occasion and the building in which I was standing was otherwise known as JCPenney.

  The morning began by waiting within a government building and completing yet another form reporting my life history and laying before the powers that be all my financial vulnerabilities.  The morning began with a verdict of inelligibility.  As the day progressed and options were sought, I found myself absent-mindedly reading a book at a local coffee shop armed with 20 oz of sugar and caffeine to keep me floating along.  I then found myself absent-mindedly wandering through  JCPenney, being fully aware that there was a bauble or two that I wanted, but did not need.  No harm in window shopping, right?

  The saleslady who was keenly aware of my interest in a particular bauble waved at me across the way and asked if I had indeed purchased the ring in question.  I told her that I had not, but I began to ask about possible discounts in addition to 70% mark down sale price.  Simply to be polite, I followed her advice to go to Customer Service as she was alerting them that I was on the way.  I had no intentions of actually purchasing the particular bauble.  The beautiful, glowing mother-to-be customer service rep was ever so helpful and kind and I found myself absent-mindedly completing the details of a sales transaction.  I found myself absent-mindedly rambling about my day of inelligibility as she completed the transaction.  She paused in her duties, reached across the counter, squeezed my hand and quietly and confidently proclaimed, “It will be okay.  God is in control.  Don’t you worry about a thing.”  My immediate response was a burst of emotions and tears and there was a holy hush about us. 

  She asked if I needed a moment and then proceeded to complete the transaction after she fetched a box of tissues from the back offices.  I blew my nose and wiped at my eyes, mumbling in the tissues that I had told people for years the very words she had just shared with me, and indeed it had been my job to do so at one time as a missionary and now there is a perfect stranger proclaiming those very words to me.  She shushed me with more words of affirmation, “You are such an inspiration.”  In the holy hush, words began tumbling out of my mouth that struck a bond between the two of us. 

  Another customer service rep and customer walked up  just then and I silenced my words out of respect.  The rep looked at me and asked, “Are you okay?”  My new friend immediately said, “Yes, she’s just blessed is all.”  My new friend finished the transaction, walked from behind the counter (that was up to my chin, of course) and gave me a hug and assured me again that everything was going to be all right and shared that I had been a blessing.  When I left her, we were both laughing. 

  Eventually I wandered back to the original sales lady at the jewelry counter and she asked if I ordered the ring in question.  In broken English due to intruding emotions and tears, I updated her on the news that the ring that I so wanted that had an original price tag of $125 and that I had been tempted to order for home delivery for $50 last week was now mine for $35.  I also gushed about the conversation with the customer service rep she had sent me to.  Her response was, “You have been blessed.”

  This sales lady at the jewelry counter then shared the blessing that she had received today as well.  She and her husband were short of the funds to pay the mortgage this month.  The sale lady began praying, asking God how they were going to pay the mortgage.  In addition to this, an unexpected bill arrived today from an insurance company; it was unexpected, for months ago she had switched to a new carrier.  In trying to get to the bottom of the situation, the situation actually looked bleaker.  Ah, but suddenly they received news from the billing insurance company that a refund check was coming to them instead.  The refund check covered the mortgage payment.  My immediate response was a burst of emotions and tears and there was a holy hush about us.  In the holy hush, words began tumbling out of my mouth that struck a bond between the two of us.  She shared that God loves us so much and all that He asks is that we love Him.  When I left her, we were both laughing at my parting comment, “Welcome to the Church of JCPenney.”

  It always happens unexpectedly, doesn’t it?  Encounters with God have a way of interrupting life and creating a house of worship regardless of the surroundings or the building in which we stand.  Today was one such occasion and the building in which I was standing was otherwise known as JCPenney.

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