When the Holy Spirit Interrupted My Shopping Spree

Paula Hendricks

Paula Hendricks | 08.06.13
Twitter: @PaulaWrites678


Funny, for a long time I'd prayed, "Teach me to fear You," but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.

It happened at the end of my week-long shopping marathon. My assignment that week was to find and purchase two killer outfits for a photo shoot for my upcoming book website.

Most women would kill to shop for an entire week, but I'd just about rather sign up for a week of boot camp. I only had 'til Friday, so every night that week found me searching the stores and racks.

Monday night was a smashing success only because of the help of a "shopper-iffic" friend.

Tuesday night I set out on my own and returned home with . . . one lone brown belt.

Wednesday my photographer instructed me to look for a third outfit. Bummer. But thanks to a ritzy-looking boutique on the corner, I found an adorable maxi dress with a necklace heavy enough to require a chiropractor.

Thursday, the final night before the photo shoot, found me in town once again, frantically looking for a little sweater to wear over my maxi dress.

With ten minutes to spare before the mall locked its doors, I spotted it: a short, white, jean jacket. Never mind that it was $118 . . . the photo shoot was the next day, and it was perfect! Besides, I reasoned, I could keep the tags on it, wear it for a few minutes, and then return it.

Just to be sure, I checked very carefully with the clerk to be certain of the return policy. Once I was confident that I would be able to return it, I bought the jacket and dropped into my car with a sigh of relief. I had done it! I had found three outfits with not a day to spare.

But then the Holy Spirit chimed in. I hadn't expected that, and I was not pleased. I mean, I was fine with wearing the jacket for a couple minutes and then returning it. Everyone does things like that. Besides, when would I find another jacket? The shoot was the next day. It wasn't like I was hurting anyone or anything.

But the Holy Spirit wouldn't let up.

For a long time I'd prayed, "Teach me to fear You," but I certainly never expected God to answer my prayer this way.

And then it hit me. This was a gift. It was the fear of the Lord I'd been asking for! At this moment, I was fully aware of His eyes on me. This decision just didn't fit with the righteousness I'd been clothed with in Christ.

It sure didn't feel like a gift in the moment, though. I tossed and turned on my bed, counting the cost of a fifth shopping trip. I'd have to miss work and make up my hours on the weekend. I'd have to go out into the humidity before the photo shoot, and my curls would be in danger of falling before I even arrived for pictures. I'd have to go in search of yet another jacket . . . and what if I didn't find one?

Besides, wasn't it enough that Jesus had died for my sins? Couldn't He cover this little sin, too? Wouldn't He forgive me?

But then, what would that do to our relationship? How long would I keep away from Him out of shame for intentionally ignoring His Spirit?

And did I really want my sin captured on film so I could be reminded of it every time I clicked on my website?

I knew what I had to do. Yes, Lord, I sighed, and fell asleep shortly after.

The next day I drove the familiar route to the mall. When the sales clerk asked what was wrong with the jacket, I confessed, "It's not what's wrong with the jacket . . . it's what's wrong with me." Once the jacket was returned, I went in search of another one . . . and found it a few minutes later for $35! It was a bit too big, but it would do. With that, I was off to my shoot.

Miracle of miracles (and much thanks to Kenra Volume Spray), I am here to report that my curls withstood the humidity, I sported three new adorable outfits, and most of all, I smiled without a twinge of guilt, fully aware of the Lord's kindness to me.

How about you? What have you been asking the Lord to teach you? Are you willing to let Him teach you through a life situation that costs you something?

Topics: Relationship with God


  1. That is a good reminder of how the world's thinking can seep into ours...everyone else does it. Our Father expects more of us and desires that we be above reproach in our actions.
    posted by Lori Crank
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 7:32 am
  2. Thanks for sharing, Paula. I have had that exact same thing happen to me before (except for the photo shoot part, LOL!) There have definitely been times when I have ignored the prompt and failed, but with the Spirit's faithful prodding, that is truly a rare occasion! The Lord always wants what is ultimately best for us. Our integrity can be so easily tainted by this infectious world we live in.....we must renew our minds to know that when He tells us "don't", He is saying "don't hurt yourself"!!
    posted by Karen H
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 8:41 am
  3. Saturday night I prayed for God's direction and for Him to give me discernment. Then I told Him the situation was totally and completely in His hands. Monday afternoon, the door was SLAMMED in my face. Took me a while to figure out God was shouting NO. Teary eyed I now accept God's intervention and know He has plans for me. I knew, though, if I prayed for His direction, it would be the way I thought things should go. Not so much.....
    posted by Linda Knight
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:33 am
  4. Great reminder that even in something as minimal as an extra shopping trip, following Christ is costly. Thanks. We were just talking about that in our family after I was talking with a good friend about the same topic.
    posted by Adrienne @ Whole New Mom
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:35 am
  5. I just love this story! Not only did you feel at peace in knowing you did the right thing, BUT God also provided just what you needed quickly and in your price range! (curls intact, and all!) He always meets our needs and blesses obedience. p.s. I'm looking forward to reading your book, Paula!
    posted by Lindsay
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 10:52 am
  6. Thanks so much for being honest and for sharing this. It's so true that when we pray for something we need to be open to how He chooses to answer that prayer.
    posted by Kim
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 11:11 am
  7. Excellent post! Thank you for your transparency. Also, thank you for being an example of how modesty can still be very stylish (I totally want the earrings and necklace you're wearing!). You look adorable in your photo!
    posted by Amanda R.
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 2:24 pm
  8. Dear Sweet Paula - thanks for such a precious article, reminding us all, not just of honesty but that conviction and fear of God is a gift. I wasn't sure where the article was even going as I progressed along, but wow, then the truth of the story hit me. Thank you! Sheila Gosney
    posted by Sheila Gosney
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm
  9. God has been slowly working on my heart to give up things that "everyone" does, because I am his daughter. I used to take a cup for water (which is free) at Chipotle and half mix it with the Lemonade. I was convicted of that one day, and on top of that my non-christian friend said: "Isn't that stealing?" OUCH! Other times my husband thinks that I am too honest or too naive, but the Holy Spirit really grieves me over some of these things. This is a good reminder, that I am not just a naive person, but this is the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

    Thank you!
    posted by Tania
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm
  10. Two weeks ago I purchased a large package of batteries. I saw the clerk swipe them across the scanner but when I got to the car and checked the receipt and discovered that I had not been charged. I sat there for a good while justifying the free batteries, after all I did really attempt to purchase them. But, I could not in good conscience leave without paying for them. so, back inside to the service desk.....they looked at me like I had two heads when I told them that I wanted to pay for them. Needless to say I left the parking lot, knowing I had done the right thing.
    posted by Sandra Taylor
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm
  11. Thank you for sharing...it happened to me too. It is a beautiful reminder of "walking in step with the Spirit". His gentle guiding overcomes the inordinate desires of our flesh and we grow in Christ's likeness.
    posted by Luminita
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 7:00 pm
  12. Thank You, Lord for the Holy Spirit that dwells in me. The Lord is teaching me daily to listen & be sensitive to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach and tell me. Great Article!
    posted by ulu
    on Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 9:24 pm
  13. Hi Paula,

    Wonderful post! You are beautiful, inside and out. And you are one of my favorite writers (and I think I read a lot and pretty widely :)). Most importantly, you are a light bearer, faithfully working hard to dispel darkness with love, understanding and encouragement. I think you are just two or three years older than me and I really look up to you. I am a relatively new Christian and this blog as well as the lies young women believe blog have really helped me grow my faith. Your posts especially touch me and make me think, perhaps because I feel so relatable to you. I have never commented before because I am a very shy person. (Don't know if that would make sense to people since this is probably one of the least invasive form of communication.) But since I read your post, I cannot get a question out of my head. I really hope you or any of the other wonderful ladies here could give me some wisdom and understanding. My question is this: I often hear the phrase "God working all things out for His glory and our best." Is it possible for our best to ever be at odds with God's glory? For example, the early apostles died horrible deaths. But before that, they already believed and therefore we know they were going to go to heaven. Their loyalty to Christ is a powerful testimony of their faith, but martyrdom doesn't really seem to be in their best interest. Another example I can think of is how safety is a chief concern of parents for their children. They would do anything and everything to protect their children from physical or emotional harm. Would parents ever lead their children to risk safety in order to prove loyalty or vouch for their honor? Does God's glory equate our best? Could it ever be at the expense of our best? Is it possible that God loves us if the latter were true? Would God be offended or upset by my question? Sorry for such a long comment. This was totally unintended. I always have so many questions. And they may come across as doubting and distrusting but, truly, the answers that I so desperately want are ones that assure me of His love and goodness. Love and blessings!
    posted by Caroline
    on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 1:46 am
  14. I loved reading this... your honesty and transparency, your sincere desire to live in righteousness, even your fashion sense and sensibility. Thank you for reminding us that God must get the glory in all things, and He is robbed of that glory when we take matters into our own hands - especially when we violate our God-given conscience.
    posted by Dawn Wilson
    on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 1:46 pm
  15. @Caroline,
    I do think that it is sometimes difficult to understand how suffering and even martyrdom could actually be what is best for us, yet I do believe God allows what is best for our souls and what would best conform us to the image of his son. Also, if we think in terms of eternity rather than just this life here on earth - who knows what rewards those who suffer in this life will have in the next life. a couple of verses come to mind - John 16:33 says “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” Because Christ overcame the world and conquered death -this life is not the end. Also “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." When I can't understand why - I can trust that God's ways are good and just and right even though i can't understand them at times. One more passage Romans 8:35-39 - "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I can assure you God is indeed good and he does indeed love us so much that his sacrificed his one and only son so that we could know Him. I will pray that the Holy Spirit will teach you truth. God Bless.
    posted by Lisa
    on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm
  16. I found your story very convicting. I am a christian. But I have honestly bought things and worn them and decided I did not like them and returned them. Is that like basically lending the clothes from the store? I think I have quenched the Holy Spirit in this area. Ouch. I have done this with books from the bookstore as well. I guess I have been justifying that other people do it too...and it's not really wrong. Im not hurting anyone, like you said.
    Ohh I need to be convicted and really repent. Any reproof from you would be appreciated.
    Thanks, God Bless you for your honesty and sensitive spirit
    posted by kathy laukert
    on Wednesday, August 7, 2013 at 10:12 pm
  17. Dear Lisa,

    Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. And, wow, it seems so simple now: trusting without or against our understanding, what is that but faith? And hasn’t He blessed me so much already? Shouldn’t I give Him the benefit of the doubt given His track record? I have a loving family, a safe home, my needs and even all my wants met. If I don’t have these, could I still trust that He loves me? I don’t know. Reminds me of Job. But what excuse do I have to not trust given that I do have all these—especially when I know others who “should” feel less loved and yet have so much faith in God’s love and provision. Reminds me too of Ann Voskamp’s book, 1000 Gifts. In my nowhere near as beautiful words: the way to trust God is to remember that He’s been trustworthy. To do that, I need to do my best to pay attention to, cherish, give thanks for, and record for later remembering all the times He’s helped me and all the blessings He’s given. You are going on that list, by the way. ;) And thank you for praying for me. If you already did, I’d say it worked.
    posted by Caroline
    on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:02 am
  18. Words cannot describe how God-sent this was.
    posted by Tara
    on Thursday, August 8, 2013 at 2:10 pm
  19. Dear Linda,

    I know the feeling . . . I love the saying that goes something like this, "God only has three answers, 'Yes,' 'not yet,' and 'I have something better.'"

    May He encourage your heart today,

    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 2:30 pm
  20. Dear Amanda R,

    If you're ever in Granger, Indiana, I bought the jewelry (and dress) at Flourish Boutique. I looked for a link online, but this particular set wasn't listed.

    Thanks for your sweet encouragement,

    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 2:33 pm
  21. Dear Caroline,

    I'm so sorry I'm just now responding to your comment. We had our annual staff "Seek Week" this past week, so I'm just now getting caught up on email, etc.

    I think your question is just fantastic. And no, I don't think God is offended by it. Kimberly Wagner encouraged me a couple of years ago to ask GOD my questions (I have a lot of them!).

    I won't bother writing more right now since Lisa responded, but I will pass your question on to Nancy Leigh DeMoss. We're preparing to start a new series on the blog where Nancy will answer women's questions, and this is a great one.

    Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I'd love to hear how you became a Christian sometime.

    Grateful to call you sister because of Christ,

    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm
  22. Dear Kathy,

    It doesn't sound like any reproof is needed. If the Holy Spirit is convicting you, confess your sin to the Lord and experience His awesome grace and freedom. How I love Romans 8:1, "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." And 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

    He is so good.


    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Monday, August 12, 2013 at 3:33 pm
  23. Dear Paula,

    Thank you for getting back to me amidst your busy schedule and for your encouraging words. Congrats on your book! Can't wait to read it!!


    posted by Caroline
    on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 4:05 pm
  24. I never bought something to wear just for a short time and then return it. But I was totally surprised that this is wrong. This is my first time reading this Blog and I am so glad I did. I am learning things I never knew before. I will continue coming back to the Blog daily. God Bless.
    posted by Gail
    on Friday, August 30, 2013 at 9:52 am
  25. I must admit I do not understand why wearing a item you purchased for a few hours and then returning it is wrong. You may have found it just did not feel comfortable once you wore it. If anyone is familiar with the retailer REI you might know they have a policy you can return anything even if you wore it, including shoes and you decide it is just not right for you. So what is the big deal? I am a new Christian but I sometime think Christians go over board on thinking what is right or wrong. Can someone please comment. What am I missing here?
    posted by Pat
    on Saturday, August 31, 2013 at 6:05 pm
  26. Dear Pat,

    I can totally see how this seems over-the-top to you. For the record, I'm not attempting to set up a rule for every other Christian to follow.

    The difference between what you're saying and what I did is that I knew from the outset that I wasn't going to keep the jacket. It was purposeful deception on my part.

    I didn't have to return the jacket in order to earn God's favor. But because of His life in me, I wanted to not do something that was purposefully deceitful.

    Hope that helps clarify my thoughts a bit,

    posted by Paula Hendricks
    on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Leave a Comment:

We love hearing from you, and will post your comment as long as it is appropriate, and is written in a tone that is encouraging, edifying, and loving to others. Even then, know that the following comments do not necessarily reflect the views of Revive Our Hearts.