In the midst of all the bad news headlines at summer’s end, here’s a feel-good story from St. Petersburg, Florida. At 7 a.m. last Wednesday a woman drove up to the Starbuck’s window and was prepared to place her order. And then on a whim, she told the cashier, “Make that two orders—I want to pay for the driver behind me.” She had no idea who that driver was. On the spur of the moment she simply decided to pay for both beverages, hers and the stranger’s. So when the driver behind her drove up to the window, the cashier announced: “The driver ahead of you just paid for your order.” Oh really? “Well then, let me pay for the driver behind me.” And so it went all morning. And all afternoon. And into the evening. Three hundred and seventy-eight drivers had their beverages paid for by the anonymous driver ahead of them. All because a stranger, who at 7 that morning practiced a quiet, no-fanfare act of random kindness. As it turned out, the 379th driver drove up to the window to order her beverage and was informed that it had already been paid for, “and would you like to pay it forward for the next customer.” “No,” she replied, “I only want to pay for my own drink” (which, of course, had already been paid for). Maybe she just didn’t get it. No matter, the chain of kindness was quietly broken. That last driver reminds me a lot of me—poor chain-breaker me. Two thousand years ago the Man on the middle cross paid it forward (and backward) for the entire human race. But when I drive to Calvary’s window, I have the temerity to announce I want to pay for it myself. It’s not about ingratitude. It’s about being in control. And so if you don’t mind, I’ll pay for my own drink. Poor chain-breaker me. Andrews University’s theme text for this new school year declares: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”—the words of Jesus on the banner over the circle outside (Matthew 22:37). After all He has paid it forward for every one of us. We owe Someone (besides this university) big time! James Denny was right: “I do not hesitate to say that the sense of debt to Christ is the most profound and pervasive of all emotions in the New Testament” (Death of Christ 158). So how shall we respond? Jesus answers: “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 39). Because you don’t pay back God’s love—you pay it forward. “For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen” (1 John 4:20 NIV). Pay it forward. Love your neighbor. With random acts of thoughtful kindness. You’ll not only be the most popular person on campus. You’ll be the one God uses to start a brand new chain that may eventually stretch around the world. From here. From you. For Him. 379 and counting.


Dear Pastor This happened to me recentlty in a different situation. I love that you posted this and equated it in thus way. I was in a very difficult place again in life. Lost a job of 10 yrs and 2 homes prior to this point. Was living in a not so nice place with my daughter and granddaughter. Working in an office environment that I knew was pulling me down. I was thanking God everyday for a roof and His blessings ...but in my heart I would cry every night. I was isolating myself and asking Him why He still loved me so much. See He has done huge miracles and delivered me .. I. Know Him. But I was sooo weak from fighting all these wars. I couldn't hear him. So I got on my knees last September and told him just exactly that! ! I said JESUS this is what I can do ...I can be happy and kind and do the best I can for today. I know what's good to eat with what we can afford. I need you to be my husband now. And a Father to my daughter. Send your Holy Spirit and fill this place with your presence. He did just that! 2 months later we were getting ready to move into a nice home 2 blocks from my parents in a peaceful neighborhood. While we were preparing to move. I decided to celebrate and take my granddaughter, 4, out to a little dinner. I thought well I'll give something else up and I wont eat much. We actuallly left one restaurant first because when I opened the menu and saw the prices ... So we went across to Red Robin. When I walked in there was a mother with 2 young teen boys sitting at the booth next to where we sat. She was telling them to turn there electronic toys down. I laughed. When I went to the restroom ... they were gone. When it came time to pay my bill the waitress told me someone took care of it! !! I was stunned. She then told me who. I cried. And told her I had been across the street and left to come here. Her comment? I guess someone up there wanted you to come here: ) Idk if it was someone paying it forward ... but that wouldn't be the first time I've had an angel just comfort me PS The other blessing in our new home? I found out we get the Hope channel.. but onlyqon one box and its the one where my daughter watches tv. So now she watches your sermons with me. Thank you Father: )

Thanks for the inspiring "pay it forward" story. I was a student when the Pioneer Memorial Church was in the building process. I spoke in the church on Sabbath morning for our student week of prayer. The sermon title was "King of Kings and Lord of Lords." Thank you for continuing the spiritual building process of our church on campus. -- Hal Greer (retired chaplain) BA - Religion & Biology (60)-- MA - Applied Theology (61)

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