Paid in Full

A dear woman gave me permission to share her story with you.

She took her dog to a nearby state park to get some exercise at the end of a long rainy day. On the way home, she ran into Kroger to pick up a few things. The few things became a cart full. The woman hears the announcement that the store is about to close and the only register open is the self-check-out. A young attendant chats with her as she hurriedly scans each item herself. As she taps the “pay now” button and opens her little crossbody bag to grab a piece of plastic, she finds only her cell phone and driver’s license. She discovers she has no Discover, no Visa, no Master Card, no cash, no checkbook. Nothing. She has no way to pay for her cart full of groceries.

It’s 9:57 pm, the store is closing in 3 minutes, and she has no means to pay the $300 tab she just racked up. What can she do? She asks the attendant if she can run home and get her wallet. The kid walks away to find a manager who can make such a decision. A woman at the next register offers to pay half. What a generous gesture! But ½ won’t cut it. The man in line behind her holding three items asks what the trouble is, and she nervously explains her predicament. He offers to pay her bill.

“No, no, no! I can’t let you do that. I have never been in this situation. My family always pays. We are the ones who help others. Maybe I should just put everything back and come back tomorrow. Oh, I can’t believe I don’t have my card in here. It’s too much. I can’t let you do that.”

“Ma’am, I’ve got my card right here. Just step aside and let me do this for you.”

The gentleman pays her debt, scans his own groceries, and disappears into the night. The woman remains dumbfounded. By the time the kid returns with an answer from the manager, the man had solved her problem. The kind soul who offered to pay half smiles and waves a friendly goodbye. As the woman pushes her cart to the parking lot with her bill paid in full, the kindness of a total stranger fills her soul.

The woman tells me, “As I thought of how grateful I was and so indebted to this stranger, it hit me how much more indebted I am to Jesus for paying my sin debt, which I could never pay, ever. Tim [her husband, who was working in Switzerland] will love this story because he does so much experiential work in counseling, but last night I experienced what it is to be a sinner, saved by grace, to be at the checkout (judgment) and hear Jesus say, ‘Her debt has been covered. I paid it in full on Calvary.’ I’m just blown away by the grace of this stranger and by God’s grace towards us.”

The woman in the story is my Aunt Ellie, the one who took me to see Aunt Helen in Detroit a couple of weeks ago (see my last blog entitled Aunt Helen). Uncle Tim is now home from Switzerland and loves the story. If you know the man who paid my aunt’s bill at the Kroger in Northville, please thank him for us. May God bless him for his kindness.

Have you been on the receiving end of an act of kindness? Please share your story.