A Happy Mistake

A Happy Mistake March 11, 2024

It occurred to me yesterday that Easter is just around the corner. For some reason, even though it is so early this year, I had in my mind that it was a long way off. Plus, I have been distracted by watching too many reels on too many platforms. My current favorite is this person, who I found on Facebook, who cooks enormous amounts of food for her nine children and makes it look like the opposite of a chore, which is how I experienced the long grind of feeding a lot of little kids three meals a day no matter the day of the week or season of the year. Part of it must be her gorgeously long griddle, and part of it must be that all of her children seem to be perfectly behaved.

But then, I was also excessively diverted by the circumstance of a young person deciding to take to TikTok to explain an outrage that was done to her by a stranger. She set out to order three queer books from Target and somehow–she believes by means of malicious intent–she received, of all things, a Bible instead, and a rather nice-looking one at that. I saw the original TikTok post on Twitter, sorry, X, and then noodled around and found that Western Journal had posted about it. Here’s how it went down, according to the writer over there, who neatly summarizes the TikTok post:

What many would consider a sign from the Lord is being taken as a slight against an LGBT supporter who ordered 3 “queer” books from Target. Instead, she received a Bible in the mail. The purchaser took to social media to share the great injustice of being given God’s word where she claimed the mistake was done intentionally by an employee. Liv, TikTok handle @fooddaddy11, said in her video “When I opened my package, I got the Bible. That is what I got. I ordered three queer books,” according to Daily Dot. “One was an in-store pickup, the other two were supposed to be delivered, and I got the Bible, which should never happen to anybody because it is a freedom of speech and all that type of stuff,” she continued. The enraged shopper then claimed that she’d previously worked at Target and that it would have been nearly impossible for the situation to occur.

A lot of the comments on Twitter express the benign hope that this person, Liv, will take the opportunity to read this strange and appalling book that, so unexpectedly, was delivered to her. There are so many things about this post that I love, especially as we hurdle through the last two weeks towards the holiest time of the Christian year.

The first thing I love is that she said that it “should never have happened to anybody.” This is one of those occasions where a person says something true without understanding the full meaning of their own words. Sort of like how Caiaphas announces, during the trial of our Lord Jesus, that somebody has to die for the people, not knowing that this has always been true and that the time has come for the very One standing in front of him to fulfill all righteousness and die for the people even before any of those people, especially Caiahphas, could apprehend the power and measure of that death. Here, Liv explains that the unexpected receipt of a Bible when one had tried very hard to order something else, something that is not only foolish but destructive, “should never happen.” Indeed, she is right. The gift she received is unmerited, undeserved grace. No one deserves to hear God speak, to feel the conviction of sin that leads to repentance and forgiveness by the blood of the cross, but God goes ahead and gives those gifts anyway, because of the great love with which he loves us.

The second thing I love is that she explains, in the words of Western Journal, “that it would have been nearly impossible for the situation to occur.” She worked for Target, as it turns out, and knows how hard it is for the wrong book to be shipped. If it wasn’t just an accident, which can’t happen because there aren’t any, or if God didn’t miraculously, by his own unaided power, cause his Holy Word to be slipped into an envelope in the manner that he multiplied the bread for all those people sitting around on the grace, at the very least he moved in the heart of an unnamed, unknown Target employee who then imperiled his or her own job in order to do this astonishing thing–a thing, we must observe, of deep kindness and love. How is it kind and loving to send someone a Bible, even anonymously? Especially to someone who has ordered books of an entirely different kind, ones meant to affirm God’s creatures in those sexual proclivities and identities that corrupt and destroy them? Well, because the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, able to divide the darkness from the light, the truth from the lie, the sin from the sinner. If this person were to open that very Bible and read it, there she would discover a God who spared nothing to rescue her, the one whom he had made, from the dark power of evil that destroys her.

The trouble, for Christians, is that it’s such a simple, uncomplicated message. It’s hard to keep saying it over and over again, especially to people who are so completely certain they know what it is already. It is about the Son of God who took on human flesh, who came to bear the load of sin away from those who were crushed under its weight. They didn’t know they were crushed, of course. They thought they were doing fine. They thought they just needed to dig a little deeper into themselves to find the precious thing that would make them truly happy–another book, another novel, another story, another explanation for why they are the way they are. All that has to be pried out of the cold, dead, lifeless fingers of the unbelieving sinner, which God does all the time, by sending people Bibles and then igniting in them a curiosity so that they must, even though they don’t really want to, crack it open and read it.

It can happen for a person on TikTok, but it can also happen for the lifelong Christian preoccupied with what to cook for Easter dinner. Anytime you hear his voice, harden not your heart, but accept, again, that he gave his life for yours.

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