Because the bookstore was located in a small shopping center in a small town, it did not generate a lot of revenue. In fact, there were no paid employees. Everyone was a volunteer and my partner and I, along with our wives, were the volunteers.
When you are operating a business that does not have a great amount of volume, advertising, promotions and display fixtures would usually be the last place you spend your money. This was the case. We spent all of our money on books and gifts and got by as inexpensively as possible on the displays and advertising.
You can imagine how excited I was when an old friend told me of a store in Kansas City that was closing down and wanted to give away all of its shelving and displays. This was a bonanza for my partner and me! The fixtures were free with one condition - we had to take everything or nothing. We rented a truck and headed off to Kansas City to pick up our newfound treasure.
Although Kansas City was only three hours away, we enjoyed the ride. We talked about God and the Word of faith and how exciting it was going to be having this new shelving in our bookstore.
Upon arriving in Kansas City, we met my friend at the warehouse and we began to load the shelving and displays. We filled the truck to capacity and we were ready to leave. My old friend came running out of the building telling us that we had one more thing we had to take.
I told him that we were packed completely full and could not take anything else. Then he reminded me of my promise - if we took anything, we had to take everything.
We waited as he ran into the building to get this last item and when he emerged, to our surprise, it was a full sized, lifelike female mannequin. We tried to get her in the back of the truck, but there was no room. There was only one thing to do - we had to put her in the front with us.
So there we were, two ministers of the gospel driving down the highway at night on a three-hour trip with a full sized, lifelike female mannequin sitting in the cab between the two of us. Everything was going well until we discovered we were low on fuel.
We had no choice. We had to stop. It was late at night and we were hoping we could find someplace open. To our excitement, in the distance we saw an all night service station. It was well lit and had a convenience store. We began to pray that we would be able to make it to the station without running out of fuel.
We were so concerned about the fuel that we had forgotten we had the life size mannequin sitting between us. We pulled into the station and started to fill the tank when several people started staring at us and pointing toward the cab of the truck. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
You can only imagine the embarrassment and I'll never forget it. However, there is a point to this story. No matter how things look, no matter how things appear, things are not always as they seem and you cannot judge someone else by what you see.
"Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven" (Luke 6:37).
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