Lessons Learned at the Pump
Lessons Learned at the Pump
Author~ Karen Burke
Karen grew up as a missionary kid and knew all about Jesus, but at 34 she had an encounter that started her on a journey to really know Him. She is passionate about teaching God’s Word and sharing truth with anyone who will stand still long enough to listen. She loves to spend time pouring in to the lives of women in leadership both here and abroad and to that end God allows her to be the steward a non-profit…4 One Purpose
John 13:34-35 (NLT) 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.
Lessons Learned at the Pump
A few years ago, gas prices were climbing and rumors of shortages periodically caused lines to form at gas stations. One day, I found myself waiting in one of those lines. My attention was drawn to a woman selling car cleaning products. What fascinated me at first was the way she was dressed… sequined flip-flops, skin tight jeans and a gauzy low-cut blouse with beading accentuating her bust line. Her arms were smudged with grease and dirt, yet she smiled radiantly at each of the men she approached.
Yes, at each of the men she approached. Her marketing style was hardly new to us as women and she had mastered it. I became disgusted as I watched her flirtatious sales presentation at the pump next to mine and saw the man almost powerless against her wiles.
Condescending and self righteous thoughts swirled through my head as I sat in my nice SUV, with money to pay for gas and then dinner with my husband. During the meal I relayed the episode; my disdain and judgment evident for THAT girl. We even laughed at her expense.
Sometime in the night, God woke me with a reminder of this lady. His voice was clear in my thoughts. As I lay in my comfortable bed and safe house, next to my wonderful husband, the thoughts assailed me, “Where was she sleeping? Where was the money coming from to pay her bills?”
And then the most hurtful ones of all….”What would Jesus have done? How would He have addressed her?” I knew His response would have been nothing like my own.
The rest of the night passed fitfully and I woke feeling sick at my own brokenness. Who was I to judge instead of love? Why hadn’t I just bought the cleaning product and allowed her to make a sale with dignity?
In reality, I knew I was like her. My clothing might not have been tight, revealing and impractical for the work of the day. My manipulation of the world around me might have been more veiled. My “dirt” might have been more hidden and less visible to the world, but it was there.
As I sat processing all of this before God, I sensed Him pushing me to go back and offer to buy her lunch. Nervous beyond belief and without a clue how to proceed, I went.
As I drove, my thoughts were a jumble of praying she would not be there and begging God that she might be so I could have another chance. I pulled up to the gas station and there she was, along with several other gals. I gulped and whispered “God, help!” I approached her awkwardly with money in my pocket hoping to open the conversation by buying some of the products. I could tell that she recognized me from the day before. I smiled. She smiled.
After introducing myself, I told her she had been on my mind and while it might seem weird, I wanted to buy her lunch! She looked me in the eye and asked, “Has Jesus been talking to you?”
I laughed and replied that indeed HE had.
No one had ever come and offered to buy her lunch, but she said if Jesus had told me to then she would be a fool to refuse. We agreed to meet around noon at a nearby restaurant and that we would be joined by a couple of her coworkers. Near panic set in as I drove away, but at the same time, I was confident God had called me to show up and pay for lunch and I had to trust He would be faithful to provide the conversation.
Lunch with Carla and her coworkers was a little awkward, but we chose to laugh about it. After blessing the meal, I asked them about their stories and their lives. Carla wondered if I had figured out what God had wanted me to tell her or if we were just supposed to hang out. I told her I had no specific word, so hanging out was fine.
She shared with me how a couple of days prior she felt TOTALLY overwhelmed and had asked God to intervene….to help her somehow…to encourage her. She had not been completely surprised when I showed up, and though she didn’t know why, she had been drawn to me.
After a long lunch, I simply asked if I could pray for each of them. We then hugged good-bye and went our separate ways.
I learned some very valuable lessons that come back to me often:
- There is no doubt I am a sinner. While others’ sins may be more visible to the eye, mine are no less ugly.
- I am judgmental and self righteous. God must prune those traits away if I am to become like Jesus.
- Obedience sometimes requires stepping WAY out, but it is always worth it.
I still frequent that gas station. Though I have never seen her again the impact of our encounter lingers to this day. Carla, wherever you are, I pray you have found Jesus. He is the one you are really looking for.
Oh God, be merciful to me a sinner. Prune away thoughts and attitudes that lead me down the paths of judgment and self righteousness. Instead, infuse me with love for others. Open my eyes to see each person you put in front of me today and please grant me the desire and courage to be obediently love them!
Has there ever been a time when you have judged instead of loved? What specific action do you wish you had taken instead?
Is there a situation in your life where you need to step out of your comfort zone? What is one step you can take today?
Luke 6:43-45 43 “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. 44 A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs are never gathered from thorn bushes, and grapes are not picked from bramble bushes.45 A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart.
Psalm 19:14 14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Philippians 1:6 And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Faith in Action:
This week ask God to make you acutely aware of your thoughts and attitudes towards others. Ask Him to remind you to love them first and foremost. Remember, it is possible to love because He loved us first. (1 John 4:19)