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Going Where God Sends Us

Portrait of Yael Eckstein

January 23, 2014

Shalom,

After eight years of living in Israel, I have come to realize that nothing here happens by chance. In every event, I can clearly see that God is so very present. Even a grocery shopping trip can transform into a divine experience that leaves you speechless and awed, which is exactly what happened to me last week.

I was on my way home from visiting a Fellowship project one evening when I realized that I forgot to buy a package of fresh dates my first-grade daughter needed for a school party the next day, when the students would learn about the seven fruits of Israel. I was exhausted and hardly able to keep my eyes open, but I found myself pulling my minivan in front of the local grocery store.

I rushed through the aisles with aching feet, grabbed a package of dates, and sprinted to the checkout line. I just wanted to get home! The Ethiopian Jewish woman behind the counter gave me a big smile, I greeted her by saying “God bless you” in her native Amharic language, and handed her the money.

As the sliding doors opened and I made my way through the exit, I could already smell the sweet fragrances of home that I longed for. Only five more minutes, and I would be able to take off my shoes, kiss my children, eat dinner with my husband, and relax. But as I walked hurriedly to my car, out of the corner of my eye I caught a glimpse of an elderly woman struggling to place heavy juice bottles into one of many grocery bags surrounding her on the sidewalk.

I realized at this moment that I could pretend I did not see her and continue to my car, but it was clear that this would not by the godly decision; it would be a selfish one. So I changed direction, walked up to the weak, bent-over woman who could have easily been my great-grandmother, and asked her if I could help her place her juice in the bag. “May God bless you!” she responded as she took a deep breath, smiled, and wiped a bead of sweat from her brow.

As I picked up one of her bags and felt how heavy it was, I asked her where she was going and how she was getting there. “I am going to another grocery store three blocks away to buy vegetables that are on sale,” she told me. I offered her a ride, and she immediately began calling out blessings for me and my family, as we walked to the car.

In the car, I asked the sweet, elderly woman where she lived and how she would get home she answered by smiling and throwing her hands up to the heavens. “I live two towns over, yet I come here to do my shopping because it is cheaper. God always sends people to help me, so I never worry,” she said. “I just stand outside, and one of His messengers will pull up and give me a ride home.” I was so moved by this woman’s simple faith, and felt so honored that God sent me to that grocery store to help her.

As we arrived at the next grocery store and I placed her heavy bags in a shopping cart, I gave my new friend a big hug. When I first stopped to help her, I thought that I was doing her a favor — but really it was she who helped me by teaching me a lesson that I hope to hold in my heart forever. God sent me an inspiring insight that night by showing me the power of this woman’s faith. We should all strive to have such simple and straightforward trust in God — and we can be certain that, when we do, God won’t let us down.

With blessings from the Holy Land,

Yael

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