FENTON, MI – I don't know about you and your family but one of our pastimes is going to the "Mall". It seems as though the desire to shop is hereditary since both of our boys have taken on the traits of their parents, especially those of their mother.
Without a doubt she is the consummate bargain shopper. If there is a sale within thirty miles, her seventh sense will pick it up and she can hone in on it like a shark following a blood trail. When she arrives at the "kill point" she will circle and survey it for hours at a time until she makes that final decision to move in. It is at that point that an unwary salesperson could be in danger of bodily injury or dismemberment if they tried to direct her to a more expensive "better value". Trying to bait and switch her would be tantamount to death.
It was during one of these Mall Excursions several years ago when we lived in Dallas, that I had a most interesting experience. While she and the boys were circling a sale table I followed my nose to a nearby candy store that sold assorted goodies. The aroma of the popcorn is used like free cocaine on the streets to lure unsuspecting customers into its retail clutches. My sugar drug of choice are imported Gummy Bears. I don’t know if it is the taste, texture or the pleasure I receive from biting off their little heads. (Pastors do carry about a tad bit of frustration at times!)
While I was standing by the counter and munching away on my gummy bears, a young boy came and stood beside me. He was about five years old and from his appearance had not had a bath in the last two of those years. He didn't say anything but just stared at my “gummies” and me. Well, being the great benevolent individual that I am, I decided to bless this poor little fellow. I thought how nice it would be to see the smile on his face and the warmth in my heart if I were to buy him some candy. I bent down and peered into his dark brown eyes and said, "Hey fella, would you like a bag of candy?" He replied with his southern accent and a twinkle in his eyes, "Yes Sir!" So I purchased the candy he selected and placed it in his dirty little hands.
It was then I said to him, "Would it be alright if I had one piece of your candy? I've never tried that kind before." Without a halt in his voice or a hesitation in his decision he replied, "No way sucka', these is mine!" and took off running down the aisle. I guess you can imagine how I felt. All I could do was stand there with my mouth agape and my feelings hurt. The attendant at the counter looked over the top of her bifocals and said, "I bet you won't do that again." It was later that day as I was recalling the event that God began to speak to me. In essence He said, "That's the way many of my children treat me. Everything they have comes from My grace and goodness, yet they refuse to acknowledge the source and will not share. When I ask them to share the Gift I have given them, they refuse and try to run and hide."
I wonder if you and I are guilty of the same selfish and ungrateful spirit that was displayed in that little boy? Don't you believe God’s heart is broken by our insensitivity toward Him and others? All good gifts come down from the Father, especially the gift of salvation. Someone in our life loved us enough to take the time to tell us the Good News of the Gospel. How can we be so stingy when our Father has been so generous? It is time for us to share. It is “A Time To Tell.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tim Patterson is Executive Director/Treasurer of the Baptist State Convention of Michigan. Elected unanimously in May of 2015, Patterson formerly served for 9 years as pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla. He also served as trustee chair and national mobilizer for the North American Mission Board.