“This Just Made My Night”

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marie-II

I find it kind of funny that when I was a kid, I used to hate going to The Home Depot. I remember walking around for hours in the store bored out of my mind as my Dad would buy this tool or that tool, or a hardware part for something around the house that was always broken. Literally the only thing I would look forward to was getting a hot dog from the vendor that was always parked outside in the parking lot. But now that I’m grown up and have my own house, I find myself going to The Home Depot almost every week now. And all of a sudden it’s like a big toy store. Now my wife Rachel is the one bored out of her mind waiting, only that she isn’t crazy about parking lot hot dogs.

The other day I was my local Home Depot in Glendale buying some garden lights for our backyard. I was excited because my favorite kind of lights were on clearance sale. They only had three boxes left. Two of them looked perfectly normal and nice and new. But the third box was ragged with dog ears like it had seen better days. I opened the dog eared box to check if it was missing any parts. As expected, it was missing one part from its long life on the shelf. Undeterred, the price was so good I decided to buy all three boxes anyways.

As I walked up to the purchase counter, I remembered that the customer service at Home Depot is generally pretty good, and that if you bring up things like parts being missing they’ll give you a discount. So when I asked the cashier about the missing part, she talked to her manager and they decided to give me $9 off. I was really happy, so I went home with my loot.

When I got home, I started assembling all my lights when I realized that the box was missing not one piece, but two pieces. So the next day, I took that ragged dog eared box back to the Home Depot in Cypress Park with a plan. They have good customer service, so I figured they would at least replace the one extra missing piece.

But as I drove there, a familiar sneaky voice starting speaking in my ear. “You bought three of those boxes,” that voice said, seductively. “How are they going to know if the problem was with the one you got the discount for, or one of the other two boxes?” The thought did sound enticing. “Think of it – you could have the discount you already have, and get the pieces you need. Best of both worlds! You know that at such a big store they don’t really check. Who’s going to know?”

So with these thoughts running through my head, I arrived at the store and carried in my ragged box. As I was walking, I felt The Holy Spirit pulling at my heart. “Do the right thing,” I could feel Him say to me. I started to feel the conviction tug at my heart.

I reached the customer service counter, half not knowing what I would say. “I’m here because these lights are missing two pieces,” I said to the cashier. She told me to go find a new box of the same kind of light (just like I had expected) and to bring it over and she would see what she could do.

So I walked to the other end of the store, picked up the new box of lights and walked back to the customer service stand. At this point, I knew in my spirit what was the right thing to do – come clean.

As I walked back to the counter, I started to explain the full story. “You can see here on the receipt that I got three boxes of the same kind of light,” I explained. “But I already got a discount for one missing piece, so if you let me get a replacement for the two missing pieces from this new box, I should pay you back the $9 discount.”

She looked a little confused, then walked over to talk to her manager. I could see them having a long conversation about it. I turned around, and the queue for customer service was getting longer and longer. Eventually I heard the manager say to the cashier with indigation “So now he wants another $9 off?”

I called out to him. “Actually, I want to PAY BACK the $9.” He looked up, now even more confused, and walked over to meet me at the counter. I continued. “You see, the $9 was a discount because it was missing a part. So now if you give me a replacement for both missing parts, I shouldn’t get to keep the $9 discount. That wouldn’t be fair. I want to pay you guys back for the discount.”

The manager, Jeffrey, started to smile. “I’m going to take care of you, don’t worry.” He paused for a second. “You know what, why don’t you just keep both replacement parts and the discount.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Seriously,” Jeffrey continued, “It would be my pleasure. This just totally made my night. To meet someone with integrity.” He extended out his hand and gave me a firm handshake with the hugest smile. He shook my hand for quite some time. I felt the warmth of the Spirit rise up in my heart. It was a God moment, I could almost feel Heaven smiling on us, blessing me and also blessing Jeffrey, maybe when he least expected it.

“Wow, thank you,” I said. I didn’t know how to reply. “It just wouldn’t have been right or honest for me to not tell you.” And with that he sent me off, didn’t check my receipt or anything.

On the way out, I was kind of kicking myself for not being more bold. I could have said something grand to him in that perfect moment like “It’s because I have to answer to the man upstairs,” or “It’s because I’m a Christian,” or “It’s because that’s what Jesus would do.” But I knew in my heart that even without that, God had really blessed him in that moment. Who knows what he could have gone through that day? Home Depots are always filled with boxes with missing parts, because sadly people are often stealing pieces, especially when they are on display and easy to reach. Maybe he had been dealing with theft that day, or maybe that was a reality he had to face every day on the job – people constantly stealing things, people trying to take advantage of the system, or just plain aggressive and confrontational customers.

Driving home, I felt really blessed to be a part of something simple that was still advancing God’s kingdom. I hadn’t preached in front of a crowd of thousands, I hadn’t led anyone to salvation, but I had just listened to the conviction in my spirit and did the right thing, and to my surprise, God took that simple act and actually did something with it! We live in a world with so much darkness, that even when we shine our lights on the lowest setting, the world is still shocked and blessed.

I hope that this will remind you to be the light today – try it out, even in the little things, and I guarantee you will see God move!

Image credit: flickr / marie-II

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