Sometimes people find my shopping strategies humorous when I tell them that I always pray before I embark on a little shopping trip. Seriously, I pray that God will help me to be a good steward of the money I have, that I might find the best bargains, and to realize what I do or do not need. I also pray that God will make me a blessing to sales clerks or anyone I meet in the stores.
A few years ago, my husband and I were at a Pastor and Wives’ retreat when we had free time in the afternoon. Since I worked full time teaching in the public schools, had 3 sons, and kept busy in the church, I was excited about having a little shopping time. When I told the group about my strategies, one of the pastors laughed and wished me the best.
My husband dropped me off at the large discount store there in Grand Rapids, Michigan where I enthusiastically began my search for the best bargains. Just as I discovered a whole table of great sweaters, I heard an announcement come over the intercom. “Will Paula McVay please come to the service desk?”
Checking to make sure I had my purse and items I wanted to purchase, I made my way to the service desk where I was met by a serious looking, professional man. When he asked to see my ID, I began to wonder if something was wrong with my husband. Had he been in an accident? Was he ill?
When I asked him if everything was alright, he somberly replied, “I just wanted to make sure I had the right person. Here is your shopping list from God.” Glancing over my left shoulder from where I heard laughter, I saw my husband and the other pastor from the seminar feeling quite successful in their little prank.
Actually, my husband was quite proud that I always found the best deals and dressed our family and furnished our home with durable and fashionable things that looked way more expensive than they actually were. Maybe I’m a little naïve, but I felt that God always blessed us so greatly because we loved giving to the church…especially missions.
Many times we did not have much, but knew the needs were there. One time, our church was in the midst of a building program and my pastor husband asked us to pray about what God would have us give over a 3 year period and to write it on the response card. My husband thought that he would pledge for us and I thought he wanted me to.
It wound up that we had doubled pledged. Ouch! We prayed about it and decided that must be what was needed. Even though we had 3 sons in college, we were able to make every payment. Amazing!!!! We never went hungry and with all those bargains, things looked good.
Some people say that if you give, God will shower more on you. Actually, we hit some really hard times right after that event. The market crashed and we lost an exorbitant amount of money on the house we were trying to sell. After going through almost all of our retirement nest egg, we finally sold the home for 100,000 less than its previous assessment.
The scripture says to give and it shall be given unto you. I’m not a theologian, but I think that “it” might not be money, but something even better. God did shower us with his peace that we had made every payment, that we had money in savings, and that we always had enough for daily needs. Every time I drive by that beautiful building, my heart swells with thanksgiving for the ministries that go on there.
Now that God has allowed my precious husband to make that journey to Heaven, I have even more decisions to make. I’m so thankful that Isiah 55:4 tells me that God is my husband and James 1:5 tells me that wisdom is mine through Him. Just last week, I went mattress shopping. As usual, I asked God to help me find the best deal and to be a blessing to the sales person.
As I walked into the store, I saw only one sales person and no customers. I breathed a quick prayer of thanks that I would have plenty of time to ask any questions. The salesman and I easily connected as we talked about his children and my teaching experience. When he wrote up the sales, he was commenting on what a great deal he was giving me.
I expressed my thanks by saying, “I do feel so blessed that God has shown me the best place to come and given me a sales person who is so knowledgeable.” He began to talk about his faith and how he was struggling. Wow! You just never know when God will give you an opportunity to witness.
He expressed his desire to grow stronger and ask for suggestions. I was able to tell him that God’s word tells us that “faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of God. “ He told me he had a study Bible and how he wished he spent more time; however, with his four children and busy schedule, he often neglected doing so. God helped me to remember how I had struggled in those same areas especially when my children were at home. I was able to share how I learned that taking time to read and study and pray actually saves time because God gives us wisdom for life.
He began to tell me that his pastor lived right down the street and that he went to church on Saturdays. I told him I thought that was great and since he goes on Saturdays, he might enjoy visiting our church on Sundays since our pastor, my son, who had also bought a mattress from him, was an excellent teacher.
Now, why was I surprised when he exclaimed, “I would love to visit! I have to work sometimes on Saturdays so going on Sunday to your church would be perfect.” We talked some more and when I got ready to leave, he called out to me, “Wait, I need to get the name and address of your church. Do they have a web site?”
Who would ever imagine that buying a mattress could be so exciting? Even though I did not have a list from God, I had the confident faith that He would lead me and help me to make the right decision. It’s time to get out there again for those “After Christmas” deals. I’m excited to see where God leads. Happy Shopping!!!
Paula McVay attended church as a child where she first heard about the grace and love of Jesus. She accepted Christ as her savior at the age of 12, and accepted God’s call to full-time ministry at the age of 13. Paula has been a teacher in public schools, a pastor’s wife, a mother, and a mentor to many over the years she and her husband, Doug, were in pastoral ministry. Paula is the mother of three sons, and five grandchildren.