For those who are listening, God is speaking all the time. It isn’t always dramatic like an audible voice or even a dream or a vision. It might be a Bible passage that seems to come off the page or the still, small voice that speaks to our hearts. But sometimes God uses circumstances, like living parables, to teach us very valuable truths if we are willing to see them. This week, I found three such lessons involving shopping that spoke to me about how we should live our lives in these last days.
This week, my husband and I went to the grocery store together. He had a small cart and spent quite some time in the produce section talking to a group of fire fighters who had come in. I was running around in other departments, getting items and putting them in the cart when we would happen to meet. When we were ready to check out, we were surprised to find squash, apples, and grapes at the bottom of the cart that neither of us had put inside, and we were missing the pack of dates and tub of buffalo chicken dip that we had actually put there.
It only took a second for me to realize that at some point, my husband had accidentally switched carts with someone else. The whole time, we were just blindly adding item on top of item without even realizing the difference. (And, either the other person didn’t notice or was too afraid to mention it because my husband is a big guy with a shaved head.)
Lesson #1: Don’t Be Deceived By Look-Alikes – Hide God’s Word in Your Heart
“And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.’”Matthew 24:4-5
In these last days, there are many look-alikes to true Christianity. Some are easy to spot like the larger carts or the electric ones that nobody could mistake for the little cart we came in with. But some look very much like the real thing until you get up close and really look inside. That is why it is so important to pay attention and stay in the Word of God daily. The more you hide God’s Word in your heart, the more you will notice when things don’t match with it. Take everything you hear and read to the Word of God. Put on the full armor of God that starts with the belt of truth. Then pray fervently that God will keep you from deception.
My kids are grown now, but when they were little, my son and daughter behaved very differently at the store. My son, Alan, would follow closely behind me, walking when I would walk and stopping when I would stop. He might look at something here or there, but he was acutely aware of my movements at all times. His highest priority was in staying with me so he didn’t get lost.
My daughter Olivia, on the other hand, was a whole other kind of shopper. Three years his junior, she would get distracted by shiny, interesting items along the way. Many times, I would look behind me, and she would be gone. I would then have to retrace my steps to find where I had lost her along the way. One time, I had the whole store of Kmart on lockdown. Security watched the doors while associates and I scoured the store for my three-year-old little girl. We found her under a clothes rack trying on shoes.
Lesson #2: Keep Your Focus and Stay Close to God
“You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.”Deuteronomy 13:4
Many times over the years, I have prayed to God to help me follow Him “like Alan in the grocery store.” We must keep that same heightened awareness, that same focus in following. No matter what things of this world might grab our attention in a moment, ultimately, our highest priority must be staying connected to God and His plan, His path, and His way. Yes, God will never leave us nor forsake us, but there is danger in wandering off. There is an old saying that goes, “The safest place to be is in the center of God’s will.” There is truth there, for sure. Now, more than ever, we must be alert to what God is doing and to stay close to Him.
Put the Cart Back
This weekend while I was contemplating the other lessons learned, I was wondering if it might be my blog topic for the week. I thought to myself that if I had more shopping analogy come up, I might just have myself an outline. Just a few short minutes later, I found a quote by a celebrity named Glenn Danzig about shopping carts. His theory was that the ultimate test for whether someone was a good or bad member of society was whether or not he/she put back the shopping cart after use. He reasoned that since it was the right thing to do but there was no real punishment for not doing it, good citizens did it, and bad citizens did not. And that was enough to determine the label.
Lesson #3: Always Do What Pleases God
“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”Galatians 6:9
The last days are full of troubles, but we all have our parts to play for God. There are big picture items like our own personal callings and ministries. And, there are little detail items like being faithful in the things that please God. I thought of Matthew 23:23 when Jesus was talking to the scribes and Pharisees about tithing but ignoring the weightier items of the law like justice and mercy, “…you ought to have done these, and not to have left the other undone.”
We can’t get so caught up in working for God that we are too tired to read the Bible or pray, too busy to check in on our elderly neighbors, or too distracted to notice a hurting co-worker. Doing the right thing all the time takes effort. Even when some of the things we know we should do don’t seem to have immediate benefits or even consequences for not doing them, we can’t get tired of doing things God’s way. God keeps very good records, and one day we want to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”
Shopping Lessons Learned
The Bible calls these last days “perilous times.” There are deceptions and distractions all around us, and it can be hard to maintain a solid Christian walk in the midst of them. But the cure for lies and deception is truth. We must be actively reading the Bible and checking everything we see and read against it. The solution to distraction is focus. We must stubbornly refuse to lose ourselves to the things of this world. And, the answer to weariness is keeping our eyes on the prize. We must always do what pleases God. Jesus is coming soon. Until that time, learning these three lessons will help us better navigate these last days, even in unchartered waters.
Enjoy object lessons? Check out Spiritual Warfare: A Defeated Foe. In it, God uses a housefly to teach me about the way I should view the enemy. Or, try Message in the Moisturizer: We Can Choose Change. In that one, God shows me that we don’t have to stick with bad choices once they have been made. Please subscribe in the upper right corner (or at the bottom on a phone). Also, check out my YouTube Channel. There, I read my blogs out loud and have a playlist of hymns from my church. Far from boring, they are fast, sassy, and anointed. I hope you will be blessed listening!