The tension lay thick as a layer of fog over the front end that morning. We were working slowly on a day that demanded we move fast. The baggers were all busy with other tasks, leaving groceries to pile up on the belts. There was a break in the communication flow between managers and their minions, so the customers knew more about the day's sale than the cashiers checking them out. And the incessant yawns of those nearby made me long for a cup of coffee that was decidedly outside the moment's reach. We were stressed out, put out, and just plain grumpy, and it looked like we were headed for a very long day.
And then God came through my line.
He arrived in the guise of a small, bald baby, seated in the front of her mother's cart. Her soft pink arm was raised high as her fingers opened and closed repeatedly in her version of a wave, a huge smile on her face when her lips weren't closed in her attempt to blow kisses my way. She was a 10-month old bundle of joy, and my heart was instantly captivated at the sight of her. The rush of work that had seemed so important just seconds ago stopped completely as I stood transfixed with my hands clasped in front of my chest, and my eyes wide with delight as I took in the sight. Somehow her mother's order was processed and her bags loaded into the cart; I know I didn't help much in the effort. I just knew that I had to absorb every minute of the Son-light that baby radiated, and by the time the cart was pushed away, there was a smile firmly affixed to my soul once more.
He didn't need to explain Himself to me - I got the picture! - but I guess He wanted to emphasize His point. So it wasn't but a few customers later that a woman came through with a bag of chocolate chips that suddenly split open and spilled everywhere. They were on the belt, on the floor, and mixed in with the rest of her groceries. We quickly got her another bag and cleaned up the mess as best we could. But for the next hour or so a chocolate chip would suddenly come down the belt seemingly out of nowhere, knocked loose from a temporary lodging by the multitude of groceries passing by to suddenly catch my eye. I gathered them up with a grin as they came and soon found that my mood was rising as high as the little stack of brown candy by my water bottle. And I got the point.
God doesn't leave us out to dry on our difficult days. His promise to never leave us alone doesn't just apply to what we consider the bigger issues of life. He's in the little things that bother us as well, and He responds in little ways...in little bits of sweetness that He sends our way, hidden in the mix of ordinary moments to suddenly surprise and captivate our hearts...to lift our moods and get us through. Too often we don't see them as the gifts they are, and we brush them aside or kick them out of the way, as some later customers did with the remaining chips they found on the floor. How much happier we would be if we would gather them up with gratitude and drink them in to refresh our thirsty souls.
I did just that the rest of the day. There was the coworker who made me laugh with a funny story in the breakroom...a manager who made a point of saying hi as she went by...a customer's comment about my hair...a friend who waved hi as she waited in another line. When the list became too long for my memory, I grabbed a strip of receipt tape and began jotting them down. You see, God is also into gathering. He instructed His followers to gather manna, fish, souls...even leftovers. Each time after Jesus fed the groups of thousands that were following Him, He gathered up the leftover pieces of fish and bread so they wouldn't be wasted. Leftovers of a blessing are a treasure themselves! Little things matter to God, and at the end of my shift I had a list of the same that brought an abundance of surprise smiles on a day that was a struggle.
When I thought I needed a coffee fix, God sent chocolate chips to give me repeated sips of Living Water instead, and I found that they were what I was thirsty for after all.
“...she said, 'Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table.' Then Jesus said to her, 'Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.'”
(Matthew 15:27-28 NIV)