In October of 2012, I was looking to pick up a part time job for the Christmas season.
What I actually picked up was a bunch of new friends.
Since that time I have continued to work part-time at the LifeWay Store in Morrow, Georgia.
I never saw my time spent there as a job.
I viewed it as a ministry.
Plus, to me, it was a no-brainer.
Who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by books?
Here are a few memories.
The initial phone interview was concluded this way, with the person conducting the interview asking these questions in this order of priority.
That is the part I found so funny.
Remember, this is a Christian retail bookstore.
Here are the questions asked in this order.
3) “Are you a Christian and a believer upon the Lord Jesus Christ?”
2) “If you died right now, do you know that beyond a shadow of a doubt that you would go to heaven?”
And the number one question?
1) “Can you work Friday, the day after Thanksgiving?”
I was hired by being able to answer “yes” to all three.
But then speaking of Black Friday of 2012.
I had been given a really nice pullover for my birthday, the previous September by my daughter, Savannah, and her husband, Brady.
Arriving at the store at 6:30 a.m., it was cold and windy.
A woman, who I later learned her name was Karen, was standing in the pre-opening cold with only a short sleeve t-shirt.
Being the southern charmer that I am, before I went into the store, I took off my pull over and gave it to her to wear.
She would later in the morning try to return it.
But I said, “Karen, it is not mine. It is yours now.”
Her reply, “That is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me in my life.”
A great memory and a great start.
Except that my son-in-law said he could not give me anything that nice again, because I would just in turn give it away.
Which is true.
The distinguished gentleman who asked me to help him find a “commentary on the Epistles.”
The woman who said, “Baby, can you help me find a Bible with the nimbles in it?”
She was looking for a study of numerical background in the Bible.
The ninety – two year old woman who had not been raised in a church.
She had confessed her faith in Christ only recently, and knew nothing about the Bible.
Ninety-two years old.
She asked the same questions that a child might ask.
“Are all the books in here that should be in here?”
“Is this everything?”
“Where do you look to find out what you are reading?”
“How do you pronounce the names?”
Then she started negotiating.
She found one of the lesser expensive Bibles.
She wanted to know if she bought one of the lesser priced “slimline” Bibles, if because it was smaller, that meant, “they left some of the information out”.
When I asked if she would like to have her Bible imprinted with her name on it, for four additional dollars, she said, “Why? I know whose it is.”
When she left that day, I turned to someone and said, “My gut guess is, that lady right there, though she played like she had no money, could buy this whole shopping center without even thinking about it.”
When LifeWay hired a new manager, who is a kind and gracious man with a servant’s heart.
He was getting to know everyone and I turned to one of the younger guys and whispered to play along.
Then the next time I passed through that area with both of them standing nearby, I said to Ryan, the young guy, “Hey Ryan, are you still tithing off your drug sells?”
Ryan, without blinking said, “Oh yeah, that is going very well. God is good.”
The many, many people I approached with fictitious discounts, only for them to have their hopes dashed at the cash register. It was all in fun.
Carrying the shopping bags to the cars for the ladies.
Thanking the veterans for their service.
For having never to be trained on the cash register I was thankful.
I do not like to deal with money.
I was left to roam the store, greet God’s people and serve some of the most gracious folks in the world.
It was neat to work in an environment where, if the customer expressed a problem or a need, the employees were encouraged to pray with them if they felt led.
The lady whose son had committed suicide.
The man who lost his wife to another man.
The son who bought a very expensive piece of art work for his mother, because she was dying of cancer, and he said, “Mama would like this.”
For being able to say “Welcome to LifeWay.”, when people would enter the store, and be able to mean it.
For being able to say, “Please come back.”, when they would leave, and mean that as well.
It was one of the highlights in my working career.
I will miss the people.
I will miss the experience of serving in that capacity.
Thank you Joel, Velma and the LifeWay family.
You were there during a part of my life, when I needed to find an outlet of service for God.
And I did.