Today I stopped by a Salvation Army store on the coast. As a waited in line, a young girl approached the counter – raggedly clothes, unruly hair, but a hopeful light in her eyes. “Sir, how much is this?” she asked. She held up a silken yellow “princess dress,” with satin finish and lacey frills on the edges.
The cashier didn’t blink. “3.99,” he said flatly.
Immediately the girl’s face fell. “Oh,” she said. “Uh, I… I can’t buy it then,” she stammered. She turned away to take the dress back, but before she took a step, the lady in front of me snatched the dress out of her hands. “I’ll take that!” she said triumphantly. “Here, honey,” she motioned to her daughter. “We’ll get this one too!”
The lady had been standing at the counter, preening, buying a costly amount of clothing and goodies for herself and her daughter. Her daughter stood at the counter – fairly the same age as the girl who first asked about the dress, but a total contrast: designer clothes, perfect hair, with a slightly bored air of soon-spoiled person.
The daughter glanced at the yellow princess-dress that the mother waved before her. “I don’t want it,” she sniffed. And sure enough, a slight rip stuck out of the collar inseam. The dress was still good, but it was marred. “You sure, honey?” the mother asked dotingly. “Yes,” replied the daughter.
The mother handed the dress to the cashier. He picked it up to place it behind the counter. But the interplay hit me hard. From the first moment, seeing the hopeful light extinguished in the raggedy girl’s eyes, and then the dress lavished on a girl with a full shopping cart, who didn’t value it… it was too much. “Ask that little girl if she would like this dress if someone bought it for her,” I told the cashier.
He blinked. “Are you going to pay for this?” he asked. “Yes,” I said. “If she wants it, I’ll buy it for her.” So he called back to the raggedy girl: “Would you like this dress if someone buys it for you?” She looked up, startled. “Me?” A look of wonder stole over her face. She ran back to the counter.
“Someone is going to buy this for me?” she asked. All three adults at the counter smiled: me, the cashier, and the lady. “Yes,” everyone said in unison. “Could… could I try it on first?” she hesitantly queried. “Sure,” I said. “Go try it on.”
So she took the dress and ran away with a snaggletooth smile.
The lady buying clothes for her daughter stopped for a moment, and looked at me. “That was so nice,” she said. “So, so nice.” I smiled back at her. “Thank you!” But my reward was already in the renewed light in that raggedy girl’s eyes.
I waited for the lady to complete her purchases, paid for my stuff and then stepped to the side, waiting for the girl to return. In a little while, she came back, this time carrying a pink princess dress – even nicer than the yellow one. She handed me the dress with a shy look. “Oh, you want this dress instead?” I asked. She nodded and then shuffled her feet.
This dress had a price tag: 4.99.
I looked at the girl, “This dress is 4.99!” She only nodded again.
The faith of a child! From fallen countenance to brash faith – what a change even slight hope makes!
I laughed, thrilled to my heart. I reached into my pocket and peeled off a five dollar bill. “Here you go,” I said. “Merry Christmas!”
She smiled that snaggletooth smile, and it spread across her face like fairest Christmas wreath on snowy castle door. “Thank you!” she said. The light in her eyes was beautiful to behold.
I smiled back at her. “You’re welcome!” “Take care, now!”
I turned to leave, and looked around at a circle of people – all smiling, nodding their thanks. I waved, and left, a song in my heart – a holy moment at a Salvation Army store, and a raggedy girl now adorned in hope-inspiring princess dress!
I walked to the truck, holy laughter still in my heart. Such a metaphor of true faith! Faith that accepts the word of the Father for what it is, and comes back with higher ante: Father, you said that you would spare the city for the sake of fifty righteous, but what about forty-five? Forty? Thirty? Twenty? Ten? And the Father smiles, “Yet for the sake of ten!” “Put it on the tab.”
Psalm 81:10 began to ring in my spirit, “Open your mouth wide and I will fill it!”
Oh, how God loves a child who takes Him at His word and then presses the promise to the full! Alleluia!
Listen to the promises of grace, friends. And open your mouth wide, that God might fill it with good things.
Psalm 2:8 – Only ask me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the whole earth as your possession.
1 John 5:14 – This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.
Psalm 145:19 – He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry and saves them.
John 14:13 – And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
Mat. 7:7 – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
Eph. 3:20-21 – Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.