This morning started out like too many others; with me trying to fit more into the allotted time, than humanly possible. This leads to frustration at my inability to achieve “everything”, as well as the frustration of knowing that when it comes to those lofty goals, I am incapable. “Incapable”! What an appropriate word to describe me. Many times, in my quest to over achieve, I’ve been told and told others that “I wear a cape”. Sometimes I’ve even believed it! But the truth is; I’m incapable – without cape and super powers – just a guy who cares. Caring requires sharing. Thankfully I can share all things with God. On top of a to do list, is my prayer time. Some days, like today, my list of petitions seems never ending and growing.
Anyhow, this was one of those mornings. I scurried about and arrived at work just on time; not a minute sooner. As I unlocked the shop, frustration filled my mind as I realized another part of myself was empty – my stomach. In the midst of all I had accomplished I neglected eating breakfast. There are days when that doesn’t affect me. This was not one of those days. I had a headache and felt the need for some “fuel”; just one more thing. I had intended on stocking up over the past few days. Something “more important” always took precedence. Since there were no customers in sight, I decided a food run was allowable. Sometimes a local eatery is okay. But, other times my Scottish frugality points to the practicality of buying a few groceries instead. The closest grocery store is about a mile away. So, I put a “Be Right Back” sign in my door and drove off, feeling somewhat guilty at the equivalent of playing hooky.
I was almost at my destination, when I was rerouted by a Voice in my head. “You’re planning on getting in and out quickly, so you can get back to work. The store you’re headed for has one cashier and sometimes there’s a wait. Turn left and go to (a large chain store) instead. You can get what you need and get back to the shop much faster.” Okay. Makes sense. I’ve learned to at least listen. There are times when unlike Abram, I ask God; “Are You sure?” – which admittedly is a dumb question to ask God. But other times, such as this, the prompting just seems reasonable.
I arrived at my new destination and found parking right in front. Cool! With my list in mind, I knew this was going to be a breeze. As I went through the doors, I glanced right. Oh, no! A customer of mine was over in the deli department. I quickly scooted the opposite direction. Now, I’m not proud to admit that I had no desire to talk to him – playing hooky and being seen didn’t bother me. But, this guy has been known to grate on me. We’ve just never hit it off. Avoidance seemed the better choice.
I grabbed a basket and looked at my watch. I like to set little goals for myself and so it was with the time frame I had in mind. My wife, Carol will tell you that if I’m “on a mission”, don’t get in front of me. Due to the appearance of the aforementioned gentleman, I proceeded to shop in reverse order. I zipped up and down the necessary isles, skipping any and all temptations to “browse”. As I went for my final item, I heard; “Jeff! What are you doing here?”. Pasting on a smile, I turned and there he was. Casually I asked how he was doing as I looked up and down at the items in front of me. Quite unexpectedly, he answered me! How many times a day do we greet others with “How ya doin’?” – never really wanting to know the answer?! He began by apologizing for not being in lately. His wife was diagnosed as being bipolar and just the other night had attempted suicide. It was really having an affect on their daughter – a cheerful 10 year old, who enjoys coming to my shop. Suddenly the grocery list and the time restraints were forgotten. He sheepishly said; “I don’t know why I’m telling you this. I haven’t told anybody. This isn’t like me at all.” He was right – it wasn’t like the him I knew. It wasn’t like me either – to be seen as a confident of news of such a personal nature. It wasn’t me he was seeing – it was my LORD at work in me. My heart went out to him and his daughter – but to his wife as well. No one should feel so all alone that they try to take their life. I know. I was there once, long ago. The feeling of empty hopelessness can only be filled with the love of Christ. I told him that I would be praying for them. He seemed momentarily shocked. I added; “It works. Prayer works. I know.” He thanked me and after a few more minutes of discussing the situation, we went our ways – after he said that “maybe bringing in his daughter would get her mind off things.”. I pray that he does and that it will.
I made my purchases, went to the car and for a few moments just sat. I had gone for groceries and found along with them, that I had been fed. In a new light, I saw Jesus confronting his confused disciples. They saw Him “being bothered” by a Samaritan woman at the well. They knew He was tired and enticed Him to eat. He replied; “I have food to eat, which you do not know.” (John 4:31,32) Before going back to work, I found myself thanking Him for redirecting my paths and for making His appointed confrontation unavoidable (in spite of my efforts). I thanked Him for using a self-centered person such as myself to offer Christ’s comfort and peace to someone I had previously seen as being self centered. I thanked Him for making Himself seen through my life – overshadowing the sinner inside. And I thanked Him for reminding me that “man does not live by bread alone.”