"You don't remember me, do you?" she asked.
"I'm afraid not, where did we meet?" I asked as I was writing down the sale.
"Right here... you had just brought that teapot in. I fell in love with it. I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I didn't have the money with me, I was waiting for a paycheck, and you told me I could buy it at a discount if I came in that weekend. But I didn't."
"Well, things happen... but you have it now," I answered.
"That weekend, I blew my entire paycheck on crack."
I'm afraid that my salesmans banter failed me at this point.
She continued her story...
"I was gonna come the next weekend, then the next... then it dawned on me. I wasn't ever going to be able to get it. I wasn't ever going to be able to have anything..."
Three weeks later, she had entered rehab and began a long and painful battle with her addiction.
After she had left the facility, she had changed towns to avoid old acquaintances and patterns. Today, she had driven back to visit her mother, and see if she could help talk a nephew into dealing with his own addiction. On a whim, she had turned into our parking lot, and was amazed to see the teapot on a shelf.
"I had always remembered that teapot. It was the most wonderful thing I'd seen... It's like a sign," she stated. "It's like somebody is telling me that I can have good things. I can have my life back... I needed that right now."
I still couldn't think of anything to say. I certainly didn't remember this woman, or our first meeting. As I took the lid of the teapot off to pack it in a box, a piece of paper fell out. I unrolled it, and looked at a note written in my own distinctive handwriting.
"Ma'am, can I ask your name?"
After she told me, I showed her the note that said she could have the teapot for $20 if she came back.
I carried the box to her car for her and after I put it in her trunk, she spontaneously threw her arms around me in a hug and said, "Thank God for you."
"Thank God for you too," I replied, and we both went about our business.
Later that night, as I was saying a prayer that I have repeated so many times that it's routine, I suddenly stopped at one phrase....
"God, if I can ever be of any use to you, I am your willing servant."
Had I been used by God that day to deliver a message to a woman who had fought a hard battle?
I can't answer that with any real certainty, but I like to think so.
Now, as I am going through a rather trying time in my own life, I find myself looking for messages, and I think I've gotten a few. But this experience reminds me that He can speak through anyone, and anything, and at anytime.
He can talk to us in church, as we drive a car, through the actions of a stranger... He can even use a teapot in a flea market.
All we have to do is be willing to listen.