“. . .But my heart stands in awe of Your Word. I rejoice at Your Word, as one who finds great treasure.” Psalm 119:161-162 (NKJV)
I read these Bible verses this morning in my quiet time with God. The very words seemed to jump off the page of my Bible. My heart thumped as I read them, again and again out loud. A very precious remembrance came to my mind and a smile worked its way across my face. I’d like to share the story with you, my blog readers.
It was a cold winter’s day and it had been raining all throughout the night. Secretly I had been wishing for snow. It seemed like everyone else was getting a white Christmas, why not us? But, sadly, I live in a place where snow is not often seen on the ground of my front yard. It just doesn’t look right for a desert cactus to be dressed with snow caps and icicles. But a girl could dream, right? I looked out the window as the rain started once again. It was getting heavier and judging from the blackness of the clouds in the sky, it wasn’t set to let up anytime soon. “I have got to go. I have too much to get done on this rainy day.” So, I put my shoes on and bundled up in my coat and set out on my secret mission. I had shopping to do. Buying the perfect Christmas gifts was my goal. “I have got to go!”
Traffic was crazy, or was it just me. I seemed invisible as cars sped past me, going at a pace far greater than the speed limit. “Oh oh, there’s an accident over there. Whatever happened, God be with those involved. Guide the rescue workers helping the injured right now that they may do the right thing. Help the police officers bring calm and figure out all the details. And God, please protect me from other crazy drivers around me.” Oh, great! Here I am at another red light. Every single light, that I have encountered, turns red before I got to the intersection. Really? Don’t you know I am a woman on a mission. “I have got to go!”
In a space of time that seemed like forever, I pulled my car into a parking spot. I remember thinking to myself. “This place is super busy today. I wonder what’s going on here? Ah, probably just lots of Christmas shoppers like me.” Getting out of the car, I glanced down at the ground as I set my feet in place, getting them ready to walk. “What’s this?” Right there, at my feet, lay a five dollar bill. I bent over to pick it up and instantly my brain started to process all the things I could do with a brand new five dollar bill. Hmmm? “I have got to go!”
Just a few moments later, on my way into the store, I dropped that brand new five dollar bill into the donation bucket of the Salvation Army bell ringer. Someone else needed that money more than me at that moment of time, right before Christmas. “I have got to go!”
I stepped inside the door of a well known, very popular department store, ready to complete my goal. Oh, the sights and sounds of Christmas were everywhere. Beautiful decorations to behold. Christmas carols being sung. Shoppers seeking out their bargains. But wait – “What is all this?”
Within seconds, I realize that I am surrounded by police officers. What? A quick glance around and I realize, with a sigh of relief, they weren’t after me. Whew! But, it was very clear, they too were on a mission! So, I simply paused in the middle of a aisle to take in this unusual sight before me.
There were literally hundreds of police officers in this store, milling around, looking for what? Then I noticed, with each officer was a child. Some just little kids. Others were elementary aged children. I even saw a few teenagers in among the crowd. Then all the sudden I realized.
“Ah, I get what this is!” I said to myself. This was the annual “Shop with a Cop” event. I have often heard about this event, but this – – – this was the first time to actually experience it. “I have got to go!”
My hurried “gotta go mission” just took a slight detour and who knows where it might lead. But this particular detour was okay with me today, because this special event was well worth seeing. For the next two hours, I just roamed throughout the store, watching, listening, laughing, and enjoying what was taking place around me. Every year, our local police officers held this event. Their mission was to take a group of underprivileged children and go shopping for something special for Christmas. They were buying shoes, coats, clothes, toys and all kinds of goodies. More and more I was convincing myself that I just had to – had to check this all out in a little more detail. “I have got to go!”
Look, over there, in amongst the toys. It’s an officer, with a little girl. Ah, she is adorable. All dressed up pretty with ribbons and curls. She can’t be more than five or six years of age. He’s carrying her in his arms and they are rushing (“walking feet inside please!”) over to see the dolls. I cannot help myself, but I just have to rush behind them. He gently puts her feet down on the floor and lovingly says to her, “Now what doll did you want sweetheart?” I listened intently to the precious conversation between them as she educates the officer on the “bestest ever dolls.” I smile at her innocence and his patience. I asked God to bless them both. “I have got to go!”
Laughter caught my attention. Big, loud, belly jiggling laughter could be heard throughout the store. I head in that direction. Yep, there’s another officer (actually he could have part-timed as a Santa look alike). Well, this officer and his child, an elementary aged boy with curly hair and a bright red sweater, were sitting together on the floor in front of the TV screens. There was a children’s Christmas cartoon playing and they were laughing together as they watched. Their laughter was ever so contagious. It drew quite the crowd without them even knowing it. I’m not sure what the cartoon was, but my delight was in watching and laughing alongside the officer and child. Laughter is great medicine to the soul. I pray that child will always remember that special moment with a police officer. I pray that officer will always share his laughter with those around him. “I have got to go!”
“I want a Bible!” Okay, I heard that. But where? Where did that come from? I stood still, listening intently. And then I heard it again. “I want a Bible!” Okay, I think it was that direction. I headed to the east side of the store. Yes, there they were. Another police officer with a rather determined boy. “I don’t want that stuff officer, I want a Bible!”
A quick glance at his face and one could clearly see that he was about to lose his patience with this child. “Officer, I don’t want clothes, toys and stuff. I want a Bible so that I can read for myself the true Christmas story about baby Jesus. I want a Bible!” Ah, that poor officer.
“Listen kid, I don’t even know what a Bible is, and besides I don’t know that this store has one. Now I don’t know what to do.” My heart went out to him in that moment. Police officers are usually pretty quick to take action. But this officer was kind of stuck. His face said it all, as a small crowd gathered to see what would happen next. I couldn’t help myself. “I have got to go!”
I quickly worked my way through the small crowd of people, trying to get closer to the officer and child. I made eye contact with the officer and said to him, “Need a little help officer?” You should have seen his smile! I felt his sigh of relief. Bless him.
Immediately this boy tapped me on the shoulder and says, “Hey Miss, do you know what a Bible is? Does this store have one? Can you help me get a Bible for Christmas?” I turned to the boy, bent down so I could look him in the eye and said. “Yes, I know about Bibles. And yes, I can get you a Bible for Christmas.” There was an applause from the onlookers. Another sigh of relief came from the officer. And the boy, wrapped his arms around me in the biggest hug. “I have got to go!”
The three of us sat down on the floor. We had to come up with our plan of action. “So,” I said to the little boy and the police officer. “I know for fact that this store does not have Bibles.” Instantly, I watched as a frown began to plaster itself on the boy’s face. And I kept watching as that frown was quickly turning into a pout which meant we were heading for some form of melt down. Not on my watch!
“But, do not fear. I have a plan. I know just the right place to go and get your Bible.” Frown instantly turned upside down. That’s better. I continued to share my plan. “So I will go on a mission and get you your own Bible. This police officer here really wants to buy you some other Christmas presents as well. So, why don’t you go with him. Have some fun choosing something special. Laugh together. Share a story about yourself. Enjoy this time of shopping with a cop. I will meet you both back here at this very spot, in one hour, and I will have your Bible. How does that sound?” A quick glance at the officer told me that he greatly appreciated my help. The boy? Well, he was already on his feet, pulling the officer up off the floor, ready to get started on his new mission. “I have got to go!”
“Wait!” I called after the two of them. The officer kindly helped me up off the floor. “Can you tell me one more thing before we go our separate ways? I’m just curious little guy, why do you want a new Bible for Christmas?”
He drew in a deep breath and began to tell his story. “I don’t have a mom and daddy anymore. I live with my Grammy. She has been really sick and I try to be really quiet so she can rest. One night last week, she told me a story. She said it was the true Christmas story about a baby named Jesus. She said that if I ever wanted to read the whole story I should get myself a Bible. She cannot get me a Bible. So, I thought this police officer could get me a Bible. But he cannot do it either. Please miss, can you get me a Bible so I can read the Christmas story to my Grammy before she dies?” Tears are tripping me at this point. I glanced around the aisle. There wasn’t a dry eye in the small crowd that had gathered. “I have got to go!”
The crowd dispersed. I don’t know what all they did. I just knew what I had to do. As I walked to the car, I prayed for Grammy. I prayed for that police officer. I prayed for that little boy. I prayed that the store I was about to go to would have the exact things I sought after. I had just one hour to complete my mission. “I have got to go!”
Yes! There it is! And yes, they have that too. I began to pull my desired items from the shelf. And, oh yes, that would be perfect for the police officer! The sales clerk was ever so helpful. As we searched together for the prized items, I shared with her the story of the morning. She too was in tears. Oh, and even better, everything I wanted was part of a 50% off sale. I just knew that I would have paid any price for the Christmas items I wanted on that particular day. As I headed toward the cash register to check out, the clerk did the unthinkable. “And Ms. Claus,” she says to me. “I am giving you all this for FREE so you can bless those who need to know Jesus this Christmas!” Whhaaat? Are you sure? Yes, she was absolutely sure. More tears, hugs and prayers all around. “I have got to go!”
I made it through the heavy traffic, through the pouring rain, through the parking lot full of cars, back to my destination with just seconds to spare. I walked through the doors. Another police officer greeted me and said, “We’ve been waiting for you to return. Here, let me walk with you back to your destination spot!” Wow! “I have got to go!”
Wow! Oh, wow! What a crowd. Bigger than before. Oh boy, I’m not used to this kind of thing. But, I wasn’t there for the crowd. Waiting for me there was my favorite little boy and his new police officer friend. “Did you get it miss? That’s a really big bag. Please tell me that you got my Bible.” The three of us sat down once again on the floor in the middle of the toy aisle. I was drawn by the fact that this kid wasn’t at all interested in the toys around him. Nor did he care that he could have had his choice of anything there. He was only interested in the fact that he wanted his very own Bible.
I asked the little boy if he would like to sit on my lap. “I have a story I’d like to read to you.” His eyes danced with delight. He sat down on my lap, and then I reached into my bag. I pulled out a Christmas storybook. A hush fell over the crowd. I cleared my throat as the boy started to turn the pages. I began to read. With every turn of the page, I could hear the little boy, softly say, “Wow!” Even the crowd listened to the reading of the Christmas story.
As soon as the story ended, the little boy jumped up from my lap. “Please miss, can I have this book. I would like to read it to my Grammy tonight!”
I gave him the storybook. It was like a slab of pure gold as he held it in his little hands. I also gave him a brand new Bible of his own. He started to cry. He held that prized possession gently in his hands. He jumped up and down with sheer delight. The crowd cheered with him and shared their smiles of approval. After a few moments of rejoicing, he asked me to write my name in the front of his brand new Bible with the red pen that he took from the officer’s pocket. Earlier I had inserted a bookmark in Luke, chapter 2, where he would find God’s version of the Christmas story. I gave him a few Bible story coloring books and stickers and crayons. I gave him a teddy bear with a big red heart that simply said, “Jesus Loves You!” I wanted to make sure that that little boy got his Christmas wish. I wanted him to meet his new friend, Jesus. I wanted him to experience His love in all its fullness. I wanted to give him the opportunity to share the true Christmas story and God’s love with Grammy that very night!
“Wait!” I said with a start. “I have one more thing. And I’m gonna need your help with this one.” I said to the little boy. I led him over to where the shopping bag was laying on the floor. We both peeked inside. I whispered in his little ear, “Thought you might like to give this to the kind police officer who bought you all the rest of your Christmas presents.” He looked right at me. I will never forget that boy’s dynamite smile!
Very carefully, he reached into the bag, and pulled out the last item of my shopping mission. He clutched it his chest and lovingly carried it in his arms. Then he went to stand right in front of the police officer. Once more, the police officer knelt down before the little boy. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place as we all heard the little boy say, “Mister Police Officer, this Bible is for YOU! Now you can read the Christmas story about Jesus too!” And then, there was the hug that made God smile!
“I have got to go!”
I just love it when God, in His great wisdom and perfect timing, sends us out on a mission, that gives us a blessed opportunity to share with others the real Christmas story of JESUS!!