Heaven Help Us was the perfect name for our bookstore. The things that happened there often made us want to say that. Sometimes in a laughing way and other times in a prayer. We had been opened less than six months when a senior citizen came in for a Bible. I took him back to that section and began to help him.
The man perused the different types and translations. All of a sudden he squinted his eyes, frowned, pointed at me and said “I have some friends from church that wouldn’t think twice about burning your store down and these heretical bibles with it. You just need the 1611. What do you say to that?!”
I said what I normally did in a crisis…….”Dad!!!”
Fortunately Dad was at the store and up front. When he came to the Bible section I asked the man to repeat what he had said to me. He did. I was so fired up, and Dad could see it in my eyes. He caught my eye and discretely shook his head. What?! I was prepared to jump in with Dad. This “Christian” had come in to our store to buy a Bible and threatened to have friends burn it and all of the Bibles except the King James Versions. What kind of Christian does that? Did he realize what Jesus would say? Did he realize what I had to say?!
Dad’s reply as a simple “Well, sir, I certainly hope they don’t.” Dad patted the man on the shoulder and told him that I would take good care of him and “hope you have a good one.”
Well, that wasn’t what I expected nor the man. He expected confrontation. He expected to be disrespected not treated cordially. He expected Dad to go Old Testament on him, an eye for an eye. Nope. Dad went the other way. He went New Testament and turned the other cheek. Dad treated him like a friend. He showed the love of Jesus to a man that came into the store to argue, intimidate, and fight. Dad immediately forgave the man and taught me to do the same. I could feel Jesus among us. There was an instant calming and peace.
The transformation in that customer was phenomenal. He decided on a Bible, a plain black, King James Version with Christ’s words in red. No bells or whistles. Just a plain Bible. He bought mints at the check out, too. As he left he told me to “have a nice rest of your day and say the same to your father.”
If I had spewed the words of hatred or admonition that I wanted, this encounter would have ended very differently. Very badly. Dad was the calm voice of reason. The unconditional love of Jesus ebbed from him to the customer. Being nice always has its benefits even if you are being offended. Try it next time and see what the results are for you.
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”