The Garage Sale and the Jesus Book
I am typing on a tiny little Acer Aspire Teeny Baby Laptop, which means that the keyboard is also teeny baby size and my hands are like ham hocks trying to find the right letters. Every time I hit the backspace key, which is always, I get an equal sign. So I could be here awhile. I’m thinking about making this one a long one, just so it’ll take you as long to read as it did me to write.
Not really. Who has the energy?
Today was THE garage sale. Since November, I’ve known I was going to hold a garage sale 5 doors down in the garage of family friends who moved. The garage was almost swollen with stuff. I could not believe how much we had both in the house and out of the house. At points during the morning, there was so much traffic on the street that people trying to actually get through were honking. Hey dude, take it easy. It’s Saturday.
I’ve never thrown a garage sale anywhere but right here on this street, so I don’t really know how things are in other places. But I would imagine that the clientele is largely the same, no matter where you are. And I would imagine that every sale has at least one guy that needs an intimidating bouncer to escort him to his car. No soup for you! Today that man was Mr. Ferris. Names have been changed to protect the guilty. Mr. Ferris was a character. To this moment, I cannot determine if he was good people or bad people. I am leaning toward good people, but there was some evidence to the contrary throughout our exchanges. (Todd, after hearing this story, says Mr. Ferris was definitely bad people…or intentionally dishonest people, which equals bad. ) Mr. Ferris was one of those that I knew right off was not going to pay more than a nickel for anything. He had a wad of cash at his disposal, and yet his intention was to spend 0 dollars and walk away with $150 worth of merchandise. He was a hawk. The first thing he did was walk up to me and boldly say, “I know you. Where do I know you from?” I was tempted to say, “Well, have you been reading my blog?” Ha ha ha ha ha ha. No, he hasn’t and no, I wasn’t really tempted to say that. It never crossed my mind. Although reading blogs is a free activity, so perhaps I should have suggested it. At any rate, it turned out that he was the husband of a first grade teacher at my son’s school. We have run into each other there in non-capitalistic events. So he made some chit chat to try to schmooz me and then he went in for the kill. He carted off a ridiculous amount of stuff for about $7. Then he offered me $10 for a coffee table that I said, “ARE.YOU.CRAZY?” to and I sent him away, kindly, while whispering ‘No soup for you’ as he got into his car.
And that was that. For 45 minutes.
Then he came back.
Really, Mr. Ferris? Did you just want to give me a few minutes to recover before you beat me up again?
So this time he prowled and slunk about, chit chatting pleasantly about his wife, the school, why the coffee table is worthless to anyone because it has a scuff ON THE PART OF THE LEG THAT SITS ON THE HARD GROUND, etc. Do I have the look of a person that would neglect vaccinations or take a shirtless child to a grocery store? Is that why you think this is going to work? As he slunk and prowled, he was ‘gathering’ in a clear box. And on top of that box, as a final item, was a pillow. And under that clear box was an office chair. And over next to that clear box, generic hidden items, pillow, and office chair, was the coffee table. He motioned his arm in a cute little roundabout and said, “$10 for all of this?”
“You have GOT to be kidding. No way. 30.” I said. I wasn’t even kidding. That was immoral. Even $30 almost made me throw up.
“$10. No one is going to buy this stuff.” He continued.
“That’s kind of a silly statement, since you obviously want it pretty bad. No. $30.”
“OK. $15 for all of it.” At this point, I walked over to see what the lurking items under the pillow were in the clear box. Well, now. There was a surprise staring back at me.
“Dude! That’s my iPod. You’ve got my iPod. That’s not for sale! That’s a $100 item, again…not for sale…that you thought you could throw into a box with 2 pieces of furniture for 10 BUCKS? No. $30. I’m not selling.” So here he put his head down, with his proverbial rat tail between his legs, and started really trying to backpedal. He wasn’t trying to steal my iPod and the iHome speaker that was with it. He thought it was for sale. BLAH.BLAH. B-L-A-H. After much parsing through and taking back items from him, I sold him a few nibs and nubs of no real value, and the coffee table, for $17. Nuggets, Mr. Ferris. Really. Or, as Ramona Quimby would say, “GUTS.”
As he wandered off, he said, “I was not trying to steal your stuff. If I get away with it here, God is still watching.” A truer statement has never been uttered. Which brings me to my next customer.
A sweet girl named Sarah showed up with her three small children and her mother. They live in the neighborhood and we know them. The girl and the children were visiting from Connecticut. They were shopping my books. Sarah picked up a cloth activity book called “A Walk with Jesus” that I have had for at least 9 years. And she was enamored with it until she realized that the key element was missing. “It’s missing Jesus,” she said to her mom. “How sad!” It’s true. None of my children were ever interested in that book because there was no Jesus figure to move from velcro station to velcro station. My husband was standing right there when she said that and commented, “Isn’t that what’s wrong with the world in general?” And we chuckled, thinking about velcro people and how to make an adorable little figure to go in the book and bring life back into it. But as I thought about it later, I realized how true that is. Without Jesus, there’s no value. Something essentially becomes worthless or purposeless unless He is there. And how does that happen? We just take our eyes off of Him long enough to forget. We look away from Him to the things that distract us and we forget that our talents come from Him. Our money comes from Him. Our houses, our children, our food, our strengths and gifts…all come from Him. Deuteronomy says to put His commandments on our hearts. “Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:6-9) Well, there’s a handy formula for living. I shouldn’t act confused about why things are unraveling, if they are. Just get back to Jesus. Find him. Put him back in the book.
Some kid, many years ago, looked away from that cloth book while they were playing with it. And they set the little Jesus figure aside. They figured they’d just come back and put it away later. But that created him being misplaced, which led to him being lost, which led to a valueless book being circulated for years, finally ending up in a garage sale, without the one thing it really needs. And all because some kid lost his focus.
Garage sale over. Money made (no thanks to Mr. Ferris). Lessons learned.
And I gave Sarah that book for free, because she said her mom was going to make a Jesus figure and put Him back in the book.