Payin’ it forward: Literally

God shows up in the most random places. Sometimes, it just leaves you flustered and happy and overwhelmed, all at the same time. And it’s a good thing. Here’s what went down…

Last Thursday night, I drove to Atlanta to retrieve our Aunt Rita from the airport (Sidenote: Huge airports kind of stress me out when I have to drive– I had to make three laps around the terminal before I could locate her and the cops would stop blowing their whistle at me. But I digress.)

So I picked up Rita and Brandon had to work on Friday (of course… apparently on Sunday too, but that’s another blog post.) In an effort to be semi-sorta entertaining, Aunt Rita and I were out briefly exploring Columbus. I have definitely determined I was a better hostess/tour guide in Kansas, so in my desperate attempt to at least get us out of the living room, we went to a grocery store called Fresh Market. It is an interesting place, with more rando foods than you can imagine. I grabbed a few items including two avocados, some  cashews, pistachios, couple bags of salad,  and a bottle of chocolate-mint flavored water (told you it was random.)

I got to the check out and there were two people in front of me… One lady currently checking out, and a dude behind her looking more impatient than necessary. (Ironic that I just wrote about patience twice last week.) Apparently this older-ish lady was having issues with her payment method. She swiped her card and it took about $7.53 off her total… but the rest of the amount wouldn’t go through. The cashier (Cayce) and shift manager (I’m guessing) David were trying to figure out what the issue was…

It was clear she was getting flustered and embarrassed. But let’s be honest– we have probably all been there: we have ran our groceries through and realized we left our card in the car (or worse, at home) or our card is being exceptionally dumb that day. The guy in front of me gave up and stomped impatiently over to another line. I continued to wait as the trio tried to negotiate the situation.

Turns out that the lady has a small-ish limit of money available to spend per day on that particular card and she realized that she made a bigger purchase at a previous stop… so her card wouldn’t pay the entire amount, only $7.53. She was stressing out, and before I realized what was going on, I heard my own voice:

“What’s the remaining total on her bill?”

Whoa. What just happened!?! Was that ME speaking?? The cashier, manager and stressed customer looked at me with wide eyes. David simply replied “Fifteen dollars.”

“I will get it.” (Again, what this me speaking?) The Holy Spirit was in my grill and taking over. My heart was POUNDING. Of course the customer started to protest, but before she could stop me I stepped over and swiped my card. It was just $15. I spend that on less than half a tank of gas… And had just purchased a cheapo pair of sunglasses at Target for that. What is $15? Practically nothing. The whole time, I was remembering that God “pays you back” and makes it all equal in the end.

I swiped my card (much to my surprise and everyone around me) and I thought the customer was going to start crying. She was stuttering excitedly for me to give her my name and number so she could “pay me back.” I told her not to worry about it… but said “Pay it forward in the name of Jesus Christ.”

At that point, you would have thought we were on the Price Is Right and I just said that she won a new car. She scooped me up in a bear hug and jumped up and down excitedly saying “Bless you, bless you!”

I was still overwhelmed (and confused) with what just happened and how God had taken over. David and Cayce were just standing there with gaping mouths/smiles and big, sparkling eyes. The customer gathered her groceries and departed.

I thought that was the end of the story and was hoping that my face would start to return to it’s “normal” color (it was flushed red with excitement) and that my hands would stop shaking. But as usual, God wasn’t done.

I scanned my groceries and Cayce said that what I did was really nice. I just shrugged and said it wasn’t a huge deal. My last item beeped across, Cayce hit the total button and said $24.99. I swiped my debit card, then David took his big deal manager badge and beeped it. Cayce looked surprised and said “Your new total is $9.99.”

Wait. What? David (prompted by God, apparently) took the $15 off MY bill because I had paid $15 for the lady in front of me. I mean, I knew God was going to even things all up (eventually, either financially or otherwise) but I TOTALLY didn’t expect Him to do it 30 seconds later.

Look closely at my receipt… can you see it?

God’s fingerprints– in the form of $15.

“A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.“–Proverbs 11:25

I encourage you to keep your eyes/hearts open today, tomorrow and until the end of life for ways that you can show the love and share the life through Christ via generosity and paying it forward. Today is a great time to start. Do it! It will pay you back ten-fold– I promise!

I paid it forward (by God’s hand.) I hope the stressed customer paid it forward to someone else. I hope that David and Cayce remembered it and knew it wasn’t me but it was God, and they continue to pay it forward as well…

God paid me back… He not only “returned” my $15 immediately, but He gave me a full heart, a new life…

And a blog post topic.

What an incredible chain of payin’ it forward… Literally.

Not breaking even, but coming out way ahead,


“Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.”– Deuteronomy 15:10

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