If you had seen the big chocolate fudge cake for two quid on sale in Sainsbury’s on a casual Thursday night, don’t pretend you wouldn’t have snapped it up too.
It wasn’t that I was hungry for the cake particularly, but something in me decided that the discounted item was too good to pass up, regardless.
Brilliantly, my reason for buying it walked past me as I got out my car to go into my friend Pippa’s house, cake clutched in my arms. “I wish I had a cake like that” said a voice from the shadows. I looked up to see a tall bearded man, slightly stooped in an old grey coat, turning back to smile at me as he walked on.
I’d just begun to laugh, responding with: “Yeah, it looks pretty good doesn’t it?!” when Pippa whispered in my ear: “Give him the cake” and before I knew it, I was placing the box into the stranger’s arms declaring: “I’d love you to have it then!”
The look of complete surprise and bemusement on the man’s face was one I hadn’t seen in a while. The apparently outrageous random act of kindness stopped him in his tracks and sent him spinning. It was like people weren’t used to generosity, “just because”, anymore.
Of course he tried to hand it back, and when I refused, he asked me what the catch was.
“I want to bless you mate. I know Jesus and I believe this is something he would want to do” I said, looking into the stranger’s lined face and puzzled expression.
“Ah, so maybe I do have to do something for it then” came his response, as he broke into a wry smile.
Before you know it, the basic concept of grace and freely accepting a blessing with no hidden charges had been explained by us girls. We had swapped names, a little of each other’s lives (turns out he’s French-Swiss) and he knew exactly when, where and why my church meet. We agreed that if he really wanted to return the favour, (I think he wanted to bake a Tarte Au Citron for me… so French…), he would have to meet me at church on Sunday. And given my church is designed for those who “don’t do church”, Adam (my new friend) seemed to think that sounded a good idea.
In the space of about ten unplanned, unpredicted minutes on the street, I had got the chance to invite a guy to church and give him a cake fit for a party. And the most poignant moment of all occurred when Adam turned to me and said “There is an aroma about you. Like a strong herb. It is overwhelming. Not bad, but a powerful aroma”. And in that moment I was reminded of the words in 2 Corinthians 2 v 14- 16:
“But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life.”
It’s not often I experience a moment like that; when someone who doesn’t know Jesus basically quotes the Bible in order to describe coming into contact with the truth of life. How spot-on, alive and active is the word of God?!
“I will think about this Miriam. I will remember this” Adam said, pretty touchingly as we parted company. Adam, I will pray for this. I will remember this too.
Father, bring Adam to church on Sunday. In Jesus’ name. Amen.