You never know what God can show you in a grocery store.

Grocery shopping isn’t a casual experience for me.  It’s a goal.  To attain said goal I make a list, go in, stay focused, get items in cart, head to checkout, pay and move on with life.  Honestly, there have been times when I’ve avoided someone I knew in a grocery store because it would be a distraction from my goal.  I know it’s completely crazy but self-awareness of crazy is better than walking through life blind.

As I stood at the checkout today, I was annoyed with the cashier.  It’s like she didn’t respect the mission I was on and the fact that I didn’t want to waste any time to get this accomplished.  She casually talked to me about her life and her kids as she slowly scanned items.  I kept thinking if I ignored her comments she might speed up the process.  Alas, she just kept talking as I offered to bag my own groceries.  Then I heard these words, “Guess I just get chatty when I’m nervous.  My husband found out he’s losing his job today.”

Hi my name is Shannon and I’m a selfish moron sometimes.

I looked up and told her I was sorry and wished I could help.  She told me the greatest gift I could give her would be to pray for the family.  She kept repeating that she knew things would be alright.  That God would provide and there was no sense in losing sleep over it.

As I left the store today I thought of this lady that I was trying to rush past.  Then I thought of all the people I know who have lost their jobs this year.  It’s a weird time for so many of us.  Our country seems to be gripped by fear and worry and we’re along for the ride.

Then Rich Mullins came to mind. He wrote this article that I had posted in my dorm room when I was in college.  When I felt stressed I’d read it and it always helped me calm down.  Maybe it can do the same for you or someone you love.

The Sound and the Worry

We are surrounded by – we are dependent on (and weirdly, quite even indebted to) a hundred million things that are just beyond our reach and completely beyond our control. Things like favorable weather; the honesty and good intentions of those people among and with whom we live, work and play; balanced budgets; tomorrow and tomorrow in its creeping, petty pace; our next paycheck; dependable machinery; our next breath.

A hundred million things. All of them are just as real as they are invisible, just as available as they are necessary, just as likely to fall on the just as on the unjust, as apt to shine on those who worry as on those who hope. (The difference being that those who worry are less able to enjoy things than those who hope.) But for all of us, we are surrounded by things we cannot predict, control, possess or avoid – things that press us and compete for control – a competition that must be decidedly won by “faith” or we will be lost.

It is easy in the frantic, task-driven “day-to-day” for us to lose our “centers” – our souls – our sense of who we are and what is really important. We are haunted by the ghosts of the “what if’s” who live in the shadows of the “if only’s.” They accuse us, torment us, tempt us to abandon the freedom we have in Christ.

But, if we still ourselves, if we let Him calm us, focus us, equip us for the day, He will remind us of our Father’s prodigal generosity and about the pitiful weakness of greedy men. He will remind us (as He reminded the devil) that “Man does not live by bread alone,” though He may call us (as He called His first disciples) to give bread to the hungry (presumably because man cannot live long without bread). He will remind us about the cares that burden common people, the illusions that blind those the world calls “lucky,” and the crippling effects of worry. Then He will give us hope- hope that stretches us (where worry bent us) and faith – faith that sustains us (where greed smothered us) and love – love that is at the bottom of our deepest desires, the loss of which is at the root of all our fears.

The other night I dreamt that I was stuck in an airport terminal – another canceled flight; another long, anxious wait. The place was packed with stranded passengers and misplaced luggage, and I sank into a chair by the phone booths, waiting for the oxygen masks to drop out of the ceilings (it was a dream, remember). Suddenly, I noticed this distressed man, sobbing, pulling his hair out by the handfuls, and so I leaned over to ask him what was the matter and if I could help.

“What’s wrong, sir?” I asked. He grabbed yet another handful of his hair and sobbed, “I’m afraid I’m going bald!” And so it goes. We are surrounded by a million possibilities, all of which remind us that we are not the “captains of our own fates.” As we face these possibilities, let’s remember who our captain is.  Let us not be made captives of worry.

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