My grandparents owned an appliance and furniture store for many years. When they made the decision to retire, my parents bought the store and determined themselves to continue the family legacy. At the time of the purchase, I was in the midst of figuring out what it was I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had just completed a year of college and had decided that it wasn’t the life for me. So, I was drawn into the family business. My responsibilities varied and I was barely qualified to complete any of them. As a matter of fact, I literally had to learn everything. From the get go, I had three strikes against me. I was terrible in math, which was not good considering I was expected to complete all of the bookwork and record keeping tasks. I wasn’t a people person—a little scary considering a job in the public meant, well…dealing with people. I had no idea how to diagnose appliance problems or locate a part for a customer, which just happened to be what about ½ of the people who walked through the doors wanted. This was definitely going to be a rocky ride.
Although he had retired, my grandfather came to the store every single day. Around 10:00 A.M., he would show up, fill his coffee cup, sit down behind the counter, and wait. He would anxiously wait for a customer to come through the doors. I dreaded seeing him come because quite frankly, he scared me. He never smiled, he grunted instead of speaking, he was often short-tempered if you asked a question, and he had this way of looking at me as if he could see to the very deepest fiber of my soul. He knew that I was a complete novice when it came to the appliance business and having him sit behind me in the midst of customer relations was worse than anything I could imagine. I loved him, but I didn’t know him.
As I faced customer after customer that first steamy summer, I felt more inadequate to fulfill my responsibilities. People were asking for agitator dogs and oven thermostats and dryer timers and icemaker gears. My frustration was hitting a dangerous level. My grandfather followed me to the parts department one day. I was frantic—trying to locate the correct bake element for an oven. I felt him breathing down my neck and I wanted to cry. Finally, he spoke. “Well, do you know which one you need?” My shattered reply, “Not really.” He reached up and pulled the bake element down and handed it to me. It was at this moment in time that my grandfather and I formed a bond.
He continued to follow me to the parts department every single time a customer needed a part. He taught me where everything was based on my height and arm length. When I couldn’t locate something, he would say, “If it’s out of sight, don’t worry about it.” Every part I ever needed was within my range. I still have no idea what was on the very top shelves of the parts department. I honestly never needed anything from those shelves, and I finally grew less and less curious about what was housed there. I was comfortable in my “range.”
As I move through my daily routine, I think about how comfortable I have become with the things I can see without making much of an effort…the things that don’t cause me too much of a strain. I look out for my own problems, interests, and dreams. I become caught up in the ministries that come easy for me and I feel secure dealing with the people I have always dealt with. Honestly, I don’t feel too awfully curious about what is just beyond my fingertips—those things that concern others. Philippians 2:4 commands:
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.”
I’m prone to wonder, “How many distressing things are just out of my sight that I just choose not to worry about?” Jesus consistently placed himself in the middle of gravely ill people. He fellowshipped with sinners. Jesus did not ignore what was just beyond His sight for anything—He did worry about it and He was certainly interested. Jesus was in the business of looking above and beyond any and all situations to lift up that person who needed Him the most. So, maybe I’m not that tall, but I can stand on my tip-toes and bless someone else. I can use those forgotten muscles to stretch beyond my arm span and make someone else’s day.