I said that I’d tell you about two other books that you should have on your shelf yesterday, and then thought ‘You know if I do that, it’ll be three books all crammed together and what fun is that?’ So I’m still going to share them with you, but later. These two are far too fine to keep to myself.
Instead, today I’m going to talk about ‘minding the nudges from the Holy Spirit’ (nudge = a strong impression in your mind, but not from it, to do something Scriptural)
Why? Well, I was nudged about nudges. As most of you know I work in Christian Retail. It’s a crazy, wild, fantastic, and heartbreaking job. It’s crazy because I have to balance retail and ministry, it’s wild because of the things that happen due to that mix (it can get as dangerous and disorienting as where two seas meet), it’s fantastic because of all the amazing people I meet and work with, it’s heartbreaking because I hear stories of loss and hope sometimes in the same breath from a brother or sister in Christ. I try to pay attention to the Holy Spirit, but there are days I know I fail. That’s a different post all together, today I’m going to show you what can happen when you pay attention to Him.
The first time I really remember being nudged by Him at work it was close to closing time (very inconvenient) and an older gentleman came in, wanting to look at Bibles. My attitude was in the gutter. I wanted to start closing up and then flip the sign and go home. Leashing the hostility that someone would dare to come in and look at Bibles fifteen minutes before closing, I asked him if he had any questions.
He gave a charming flushed smile and said in a faltering voice “I want a Bible I can understand.” He reached for one of the King James Bibles. That’s when I saw his hands. They were the size of hams with large knuckles and callused along the sides and tip. His nails were dark with dirt or grease and several were split. His fingers were thick and blunt tipped. They were lined with scars, chaffed by age, and sprinkled with freckles. The artist in me want to grab a sketch pad and start drawing them that instant. I went and got a New Living Bible and explained that it was much easier to understand than King James. He flushed and looked at me with a crooked, snaggle-toothed smile. “I didn’t go past the sixth grade in school,” he told me and reached for the New Living Bible “I don’t read so good.”
My throat was beginning to ache and I looked down to wipe at my tears. My watch glared back up at me, it was 5 minutes past closing time. I went to the door, flipped the sign and locked it. My coworker started vacuuming, and I went back over to where he was, leaving wasn’t so much of a priority any more. Those rough, aged fingers were running along the text on the Bible’s page and he was murmuring along as he read.
Tell him, Jesus didn’t go past the sixth grade either. The words bounced back and forth between my ears. What in the world? Jesus had studied the Torah, He’d amazed the men in the temple, He was known for His way with words.
Tell him, Jesus didn’t go past the sixth grade either this time, the words came with a fluttering urgency and I swallowed. Okay, this was going to be rather weird and those huge hands catching on the fine paper of the Bible could seriously hurt me if I insulted him and made it sound like I was meditating on his lack of education. I cleared my throat, felt my pulse bouncing against my larynx, and managed to get out. “You know, sir, you’re in really good company, I mean, not having had an education past the sixth grade.”
The man’s eyes met my gaze, I had his full attention, his finger was stilled against the paper. “Jesus didn’t have one that went past that either.” I fumbled onward “He was a carpenter, a man who worked with His hands, He learned his father’s trade. It was the Pharisees and Sadducees that had a really extensive education of book learning.” The intensity of his gaze deepened and I felt the blood aching in my ears, they were stinging they were so hot. Then, it happened. For an instant, wet shimmered over the surface of his eyes, then receded as quickly as it had welled up. He closed the Bible and smoothed the cover of it with his fingers, the leather sounding against the roughness of the palm of his hand.
“Never thought about that” he grunted. The quiet that filled the space between us was so deep, the Holy Spirit was there, heavier than an ocean. “Guess then, if my Savior was not much for learning, the sixth grade is okay for me, and He don’t mind.” I could only nod. He moved to the counter and I rang him out, and let him out, watching him walk across the parking lot to his pick up, the Bible cradled against his chest.
I finished closing with my coworker, and tried to shake myself out of a daze. The Holy Spirit had given me a message for that fellow, something or someone had beaten him about his lack of education, and I was the one tapped to deliver the truth to him. It wasn’t my truth, but it was the Truth and a holy moment had dropped into my life because I risked looking like a fool and had done what I was nudged to do.