One day a father and his six small children troop single file into the thrift store. The tops of the little ones’ heads are staggered at four-inch intervals of height, like stair steps. At first, we clerks exchange glances, doubting whether one lone man is sufficient to keep twelve little hands off the breakables, but we needn’t have worried. The children follow along behind him to the back of the store and wait patiently while he begins searching the clothing for their sizes.
Watching this scene, an elderly gentleman shopper hands our cashier a ten and tells her, “Whatever that father buys, use this to pay for it.” Then he leaves.
A few minutes later, when the family comes up to the cash register and Joan totals up the sale, she tells the father his purchase is not only covered but there is $1.50 left over. Dad looks at us in surprise and then at his children and says, “Come on, kids, let’s get another shirt for each of you.” They are all for that, and the orderly line returns to the clothing racks.
This is the point in the story where one begins to believe seriously in angels.
A woman customer, overhearing, whispers to our cashier that she would like to cover whatever else the father decides to purchase.
When the family returns to the checkout and finds that their additional clothing is also free, the father looks momentarily incredulous. But then a huge smile breaks over his face. “Kids,” he says to them, “we’re going for ice cream!”
When I tell people this story, many of them are as delighted with it as I am, but curiously, some people don’t like it at all. One opinion out there says: That father should have saved his money. Spending it on something as frivolous as ice cream is a waste of the gift he was given.
Hmm. Okay, that’s logical.
But at the time it happened, that’s not how I saw it at all.
I saw an older gentleman who was touched by God to purchase the clothing this family needed. I saw a father who, at first, took this gift as a sign that God wanted him to buy more clothing for his children. But on the occasion of the second gift, I saw a father who was absolutely sure that God wanted the children to have ice cream, and it had taken two angels to get the message through.
—Excerpted from Thrift Store Graces by Jane Knuth