Have I ever told you about the time I worked as a pawnbroker? God did so much in my life through my experience of working at a Pawn Shop  just inside the beltline in Raleigh, NC for a year before I left for Scotland. If you’re not familiar with what a Pawn Shop is, google it, or perhaps we’ll have a lesson about that another day.

In the meantime…you may have heard this expression before: “Keep Your Eye on the Cross.” On one especially fated day back at the pawn shop, God made this lesson incredibly real for me…seriously. Seriously.

See, someone pawned this ridiculously expensive white gold … or maybe platinum cross. It must’ve been 4 or 5 inches long and 3 or 4 inches wide — like, too big for me to close my hand around it. And it was COVERED, its entire length and width, with diamonds. Big, quality diamonds, and there was one really big diamond in the centre. Iced out, frosted bling bling. I could hardly believe the thing was real. But it was! And someone pawned it and didn’t come back to pick it up, so it was in the jewelry case for sale for ages. This was the kind of bling a baller would be so proud to sport he’d put his life in danger for it. Pricetag: $5,000. I’m not even kidding. Well, it was $10,000 but everything was always 50% off.

So, this one day, this guy comes in and wants to see the gold bracelets in the case where the cross is. I open up the case, and start showing him one after another. He’s trying them on, way different sizes, way different looks, way different prices, and I begin to think, “Hmm, champ…you’re either somehow female, or you just have no clue, or else you’re not really after a bracelet.” And in my mind, I heard the Lord say, “Keep your eye on the cross.” My first thought was, “Okay, Jesus, I know. Thank you for the cross” and then I realised the Lord was literally saying, “Keep your eye on that cross.” “Okay, Lord, okay.”

A moment later, I knocked over one of the watches in the case, and it fell out of the case onto the floor. I very carefully slid the case closed, leaned down to pick up the watch while keeping an eye on the case, and then continued helping this guy. When I put the watch back I double checked — yes, the bling bling cross is still there. Sweet. So two minutes later, this guy is still saying “Okay let me see this one…okay that one.” And I’m beginning to think he’s wasting my time. All of sudden I realise, “Holy cow, where is the cross!!!!!?????!!!!”

To this day, I have no idea how the guy got hold of it. I mean I was really paying attention carefully. I looked up at him, and then looked, and I could see he was holding it in his hand down by his side, but it was too big to be completely concealed. I looked at it, looked up at him, and seriously you guys, a boldness came over me like nothing I’ve ever experienced, and I said, “Give it back.” He looked at me, kind of uncomfortably, and then tried to play it off, and handed the cross over the counter to me. My heart was absolutely racing. I put the cross back into the case and locked it. He said he wanted to keep looking at bracelets, and I said, “No.” He left the store and my manager was rather perturbed he didn’t have the opportunity to call him in for attempted theft. I was thankful the Lord had prompted me to be mindful of that stinkin cross or I probably would’ve lost my job and owed my boss 5K!

Not just in a literal way, but also in a spiritual way, being mindful of the cross can give us a clearer perspective on what’s happening around us. When we think about Jesus’ sacrifice — coming down from heaven where He was equal with God to save us — we realise that, in comparison, no matter what we give up, we aren’t really sacrificing very much to follow Him. When the enemy tries to condemn us, or make us feel like because of our sin we are unworthy of a relationship with a holy God, we can point to the cross and remind him that our relationship with God is paid for.

And thanks to the Bling Bling Pawn Shop Cross that almost got stolen, I will have the message — Keep your eyes on the cross — etched in my heart for the rest of my days.