This weekend one nearby neighborhood will host their annual garage sale. Usually, it is huge, almost unbelievably so. It’s not the sheer number of sales in this one neighborhood that is so amazing; it’s the number of people attending in such a limited space. Contained to this one neighborhood, the traffic and congestion are startling.
People literally bring trailers, U-Haul trucks, and even golf carts to this sale. They park miles back and spend the entire day shopping the hundreds of garage sales. I would imagine it is a logistical nightmare for local police and the residents who choose not to participate.
My friends and I attended once or twice; the last time we only spent half of the day shopping. That was more than enough for us. Walking for blocks and blocks, we encountered so many people on the sidewalks and streets; it was just too crowded really to shop. Plus, the pickings were slim and overpriced.
The atmosphere was friendly and fun though, almost like a state fair or something, with lots of great food booths and even face painting for the kids. It was a festive event where everyone loved everyone—until the traffic ground to a standstill and the deals got way too intense.
As usual, I spoke to everyone on the day we attended. My warm and friendly sidewalk greeting was usually returned with the same kindness and warmth—usually. One lady mocked me as I smiled and said good morning. I just laughed kindly and kept on walking, ready to greet the next shopper.
But to me, it was sad that an adult could not even take my friendliness for what it simply was. Maybe life or people had jaded that woman over time. Whatever the case, I did my part.
I smiled and shared the love of Jesus in the midst of a crazy, hectic world. That’s all I could do, other than pray for that woman to find the joy of the Lord for herself. My job was spreading love; her response was mocking such love. I chose to laugh and love her in spite of the mocking.
That quick encounter reminded me of a few things. I thought of the people who mocked and cursed our Savior on the road to Calvary. Funny, some of those same people—even one of the soldiers—later gave their hearts and lives to follow the one they had mocked.
I also thought of the 19th verse from Numbers 23, one of my go-to verses: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?” (Numbers 23:19, KJV)
I love to quote it, and I do so quite often. In fact, my kids and their friends kind of make fun of me at times with this verse. They use my tone of voice and my mannerisms to act like me whenever a good chance arises. They mockingly say in a syrupy Southern voice, “Alright now, y’all remember that God is not a man that He should lie.”
Praise God! They mock my quotation of this verse, but the joke is on them. However it occurred, the truth of this verse is now a deep part of their being.
I even had the privilege of hearing one of my younger son’s friends (who is now a minister) quote this verse in a prayer circle with several other ministers. He was sincerely praying for a desperate situation in our community. When he instinctively quoted the verse in his prayer, I looked up; he did too. His grin said it all. He remembered where he had learned this verse, and now he understood its truth.
So, go ahead and mock me all day long. I’m OK with it—as long as God’s Word gets into your spirit and soul. As Paul stated more than once in the book of 1 Corinthians, “Imitate me, just as I imitate Christ” (11:1).
And as I sit here typing, I am remembering that lady I encountered on the sidewalk at that neighborhood yard sale. Here’s my only question: Did I look enough like Jesus for that woman to catch a glimpse of Him?
I hope so, because even a glimpse of Jesus had the potential to change her forever. I pray even now that the woman I greeted mocked me over and over again until she now looks and sounds—not like me—just like Jesus.
And that’s my prayer for each of us today as well. May we all look enough like Jesus for the world to be able to recognize and find Him easily.