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A Good Will Moment.

By this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus Himself said:

“It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Acts 20:35

Mom’s directive was simply this, “Collect the things you no longer want so I can donate them to Goodwill.”

Whatever that was.

So I’d stuff a brown paper grocery bag full of ugly sweaters, over-priced and under-appreciated souvenirs, and un-read books. Easy peasy. All for a bunch of nameless, faceless people.

In need.

It wasn’t until years later when I realized Goodwill also had a retail store, a place to purchase other people’s cast-offs.

Somewhat like a garage sale on steroids. But with sales tax. And without the opportunity for price haggling.

Since then, I’ve shopped at Goodwill either because I’ve been on the hunt for something specific or because Mary just needed a moment to herself.

On one occasion, I recognized a friend of mine. We exchanged cordial ‘hi, how are you?’s’.

Then I asked her, “Are you looking for anything in particular?”

She shook her head, leaned into her shopping cart handle, and expelled a little breath.

“You know, Mary, sometimes I just need a Goodwill moment.”

She was right. In fact, she’d found me in the middle of my own Goodwill moment, all about what potential treasures I could find. For moi.

Then there was that frigid morning, just five minutes after Goodwill opened, when God added a sacred richness to my notion of what I had already defined as ‘a Goodwill moment’.

I encountered Lynwood.

I’d just entered the store and approached the checkout counter to return a purchase from a few days before. Sunlight fired through the storefront window, splashed across the checkout counter, and spilled an amber glow onto the tile floor.

Off to the side, there stood Lynwood, a short-statured, elderly man.

He was glancing at items strewn on a shelf.

Beneath his oversized, dark ball cap, he wore a toothy, Texas-sized grin that contrasted with his dark skin.

“Is it cold enough for ya?” he asked, watching me shiver.

I humored the stranger. “Actually, yes, it is. Quite cold enough.” I scanned the place, waiting for a cashier to emerge.

The Lord nudged me. That freshly baked loaf of bread in your car that you’re donating to the soup kitchen? Give it to him.

“You like bread?” I asked.

“Sure do.”

“Well, I’d planned to take some bread to the soup kitchen, but I’d rather you take it.” (And save me the trip, thought Self)

His chocolate brown eyes grew bright. “You going downtown?”

I hesitated, clinging to my morning’s agenda. But there went that holy nudging again, taking a sharp elbow to a billowing rise of excuses.

Lynwood explained. “I’m here waitin’ for the bus…”

His means of getting to the soup kitchen.

Yes, Lord.  “I’ll give you a ride.”

While seated snugly in the passenger seat of my car, the zip-locked bag of bread resting in his lap, Lynwood spoke of his two children living in Africa, his years serving our country in the Korean War as a Marine. And his love for the Lord, God’s blessings.

I’d needed reminding.

I left Lynwood – and his loaf – in the company of several others seeking warmth inside the soup kitchen while they awaited a mid-day meal. He thanked me more than once. We parted ways with a simple handshake.

I suppose the next time the urge for a Goodwill moment strikes, it may be that someone needs a bit of good will.

It is more blessed to give than to receive. Acts 20:35b


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