Apr 25, 2016

Jesus, Publix, and the man-child....

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The story I am about to share happened two and a half years ago. I shared it with a class I was teaching at the time, but have never written about it until now. In some strange way, I wanted to keep it inside of my soul. It was such a personal and life-altering moment that I didn't want to taint it by setting it free from my heart and mind.

However, today, God reminded me of this story. I needed to hear it again. I needed to remember the lesson it taught me. I hope it will encourage you as well.

It was late Fall of 2013. I had decided to stop writing. I was tired. And burned-out. And kind of done with bible studies altogether to be honest.

I was teaching a SHINE Girls class at the time at my beloved church. I loved my time with those ladies, I loved them dearly. However, I was burned out. In every possible way.

At that time, I was writing almost every day and then leaving my house every Wednesday night to lead the bible study class. Of course, this was in between sports, kids, husband, and all the other stuff I had jammed into my agenda.

My cup had literally runneth over.

One afternoon during this burned out season of my life, I headed to the grocery store. It was a rare moment of alone time so I decided to drive and extra 10 miles to the Publix in the next town.

The drive to Publix was full of prayers, tears, and more tears. I talked to God the whole entire way to Publix. I poured my heart out to Him. I was frustrated. My writing had come to a halt, my desire to lead bible studies had diminished, my "purpose" seemed to have vanished.

The question I cried over and over to God that day was, "What is my purpose, Lord? Why have you taken the desire to write and teach away from me? Have I done something wrong? Did I write, teach, or say something not in line with Your Word? Help me to understand!"

God did not respond. Nothing. Nada. Silence.

I finally pulled into Publix looking like a hot mess. Mascara running down my face. Puffy eyes and a snotty nose. Perfect.

Still having a conversation in my heart with God, I mindlessly grabbed a buggy. When I pulled it out of the stack, I backed right into a big black man.

He was standing right in the middle of the buggy corridor holding a small black comb. People were passing by him and staring. He was mumbling something that I couldn't quite make out.

As I tried to scoot pass him, he said clear as a bell, "W-w-w-w-would you brush my hair?"

I looked behind me.

Shoot.

Nobody was there.

He was talking to me.

I finally got a glimpse of his face.

He looked like a child in the face. The sweetest face you have ever seen sitting atop a massive 6'3 build.

He looked like a man-child.

Without even thinking, I took the comb out of his shaking hands.

He bent down so I could reach his fresh-shaven head.

I combed. And combed. And combed.

Each stroke of the comb he smiled.

I was lost in the moment with this man-child. Combing a perfect stranger's big, black, almost-bald head.

A few minutes passed and a lady came and gently took the comb from my hands.

"Thank you, ma'am. He loves to have his hair combed. He is a special boy with special needs."

I immediately thanked her for giving me the privilege to comb her son's hair.

Seconds later I walked off with my buggy and almost melted right then and there on that Publix floor.

I had just had an encounter with Jesus.

I could feel it all the way to my toes. His Presence was right there in the buggy corridor. Right there in those big brown man-child eyes whose head of hair I had just combed.

Jesus was showing me my purpose. Just as I had asked Him.

It's not about writing a good blog post, or teaching a good bible lesson, or memorizing a scripture a week. NO.

He showed me that my purpose was to love His people. To not just know the words of Christ, but to be the hands and feet of Christ.

To notice those in my very path. Even in the buggy corridor at Publix.

To see what's around me instead of having my head down in my phone, or just wrapped up in my own stinkin' pity party.  

To have my spiritual eyes on at all times waiting for opportunities to comb a head of hair, or speak to a total stranger, or smile at the person next to me.

My purpose had diminished because I had forgotten that it cannot be found in myself. But in Him. In loving others. In serving others.

To be ready and willing at all times to wash the feet, or comb the hair of another.

I was so busy trying to pump myself up with Jesus, that I missed the main thing: Being poured out. For Jesus. For a hurting world. For the man-child who simply wanted his hair combed.

There is a story in the book of Mark that wrecks me when I read it. I want to be like this woman. I don't want to hold it in, store it up, and be bloated with religion...I want to give it all away for Christ's sake. Setting aside my agenda, my pride, my purpose...in order to live for His Purpose.

Be changed by the "Poor Widow's" story:

41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.
43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12:41-44

She gave all she had.

She walked away with nothing, but left with everything.

When I get confused on what my purpose is, I remember this day. The day that Jesus stopped me in my tracks to comb a man-child's head.

Are you confused about your purpose? Look around you. Opportunities abound. Open your eyes, and see. Then give it away. Like the poor widow. Holding nothing back.


finding purpose,



jill